Monday, October 13, 2014
Thursday, September 18, 2014
Voting a straight Democratic ticket ensures that every
outstanding Democratic candidate and Incumbent
receives your vote. Voting the straight ticket is the
easiest way to vote for every Democrat. Cast a straight
Democratic vote by darkening in the oval provided to
the left of "Democratic Party" on paper ballots, or by
selecting "Democratic Party" on the screen if you are
using an electronic voting machine.
Wednesday, September 17, 2014
Judge Ken Molberg will be on the November 4, 2014, general election ballot as a candidate for Fifth District Court of Appeals, Place 5.
The 5th District Court of Appeals is one of our region's most important courts with jurisdiction over criminal, family and civil appeals cases for Dallas, Collin, Rockwall, Kaufman, Grayson and Hunt counties.
Denise Hamilton is the Democratic Nominee for Collin County Justice of the
Peace Court Precinct 3, Place 2.
Justice of the Peace courts have original jurisdiction over Class C misdemeanor criminal cases, and over minor civil matters, including small claims disputes, trespass, landlord and tenant disputes, and other real estate or property related disputes. Justices of the Peace can also perform marriages. Justice of the Peace courts also have jurisdiction over juvenile truancy cases.
Thursday, September 11, 2014
Lifelong Texan Sameena Karmally, candidate for
State House District 89, grew up in the DFW area and
is a proud graduate of Texas public schools, the University
of Dallas, and the University of Texas School of
Dallas Morning News endorses Sameena Karmally for Representative, Texas House District 89, over incumbent, Jodie Laubenberg.
"Not only has [Laubenberg] drawn an opponent, but a top-notch one. Democrat Sameena Karmally, a 38-year-old Allen attorney, gets this newspaper’s recommendation because her vision for Texas is more constructive and forward-looking than what Laubenberg has offered."
Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2014 was the opening day of the U.S. District Court trial in Corpus Christi over whether Texas’ SB14 voter ID law is discriminatory. The current voter discrimination suit was filed under section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos is the trial judge.
The law was already ruled discriminatory in August 2012 by another federal district court 3 judge panel under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. That 2012 ruling was overturned after the Supreme Court in June 2013 effectively nullified Section 5 anti-discriminatory protections. Just hours later, Texas announced that it would immediately implement its ID law.
by Michael Handley
VOTER REGISTRATION -- You MUST be registered to vote in the county in which you reside to vote in the November 4, 2014 election. The last day to register to vote for the 2014 November 4th General Election is October 6, 2014. You must be registered, or have mailed your registration application to be postmarked, no later than 11:59 p.m. Monday, October 6, 2014. Call Collin County Elections at 972-547-1990 for Information.
Every registered Texas voter should have received their new 2014-15 orange Voter Registration Card (VRC) were mailed during the first part of January 2014.
If you have not already received a new VRC, you are likely NOT registered to vote. You should immediately check your registration status and take action to properly register, if you find you are not registered to vote in the county where you reside. You must be registered or have mailed voter registration application by February 3rd to be eligible to vote in the March 4, 2014 primary election.To check your Collin Co. registration status - click here. To check your registration status in another Texas county - click here. If you find you are not registered to vote, you can find the Voter's Registration application for Collin Co. by clicking here or any county by clicking here. For specific information about voting in Texas, click here to find the Secretary of State’s pamphlet on Texas Voting.
Wednesday, September 10, 2014
by Michael Messer, President, Collin County Young Democrats
“Unless a people are educated and enlightened, it is idle to expect the continuance of civil liberty, or the capacity for self government.” These words are forever a part of the unique history of our state. In March of 1836, as Santa Anna's army was attacking the Alamo, five men gathered to write the Texas Declaration of Independence. Among their grievances, they included that Mexico had failed to create a system of public education, “although possessed of almost boundless resources.”
Leticia San Miguel Van de Putte grew up on the West Side of San Antonio, graduated with honors from high school and then attended pharmacy school at the University of Texas at Austin. After graduating, she opened her own small business, a community pharmacy that serves the same neighborhood she grew up in.
Leticia was elected to the Texas Legislature in 1990 and since then has been a champion of business, public education, and veterans. She also has worked to fight the heartbreaking and criminal practice of human trafficking.
Leticia led Texas’ fight for a safer state by creating the Texas Human Trafficking Prevention Task Force which has increased penalties for criminals that have committed repeat offenses against children and improved services for victims. She will continue to toughen penalties for those who prey on our most vulnerable and strengthen services for the victims seeking to heal.
Wendy Davis got her start in public service on the Fort Worth City Council. Her work there and in the Texas Senate show she's a fighter working for all Texans, working to restore the Texas Promise of equal opportunity to education, a strong economy and a government that works for all people, not just some special interests.
Davis began working after school at 14 to help support her family, and by 19 was a young mother. To make a better life, she enrolled in community college.
Hard work, with the help of scholarships, loans and grants led her to Texas Christian University and later Harvard Law, where she graduated with honors.
Monday, September 8, 2014
There are people who do not vote. They tell you “my vote doesn’t matter,” or “elected officials don’t listen to me,” or “my vote doesn’t count.” The reality is that VOTING MATTERS. The people elected to office have the ability to make opportunity available to all citizens or to make the American Dream available only to the privileged few.
VOTING MATTERS when you look at what each party stands for and the goals they have set out for governing. VOTING MATTERS if you care about education. VOTING MATTERS if you care about health care. VOTING MATTERS if you care about jobs. Take a look at what each party hopes to achieve, based on the official 2014 Party Platforms, and determine if VOTING MATTERS in your life. Ask yourself - if I vote, will it matter? If you care about any of the issues below, VOTING MATTERS!
VOTING MATTERS! Are you going to make your voice heard on Election Day?
Thursday, September 4, 2014
Voting by mail is a convenient option because you may vote from home, with no need to find a polling location or wait in line.
Voting by mail is an option if you are age 65 or older, if you have a disability, if you expect to be out of the county during the period for voting In person, or if you meet other conditions.
The last day to submit an application is October 24, 2014 (form must be RECEIVED, not postmarked, by this date).
Please call the Democratic Party of Collin County at 972-578-1483 for more information.
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
Election Day Vote Center Locations Hours
Collin County Elections Election Day Webpage
Friday, May 30, 2014
We're on a mission to make Collin County a Texas Democratic Battleground! First up is our Triple-Hit June coordinated block walk program the first three Saturday mornings in June: June 7th, 14th, and 21st.
Come out and join the Democratic Network of local Collin County Candidates, Precinct Chairs, Women Organizing Women Democrats, Heritage Ranch Democrats, Collin County Young Democrats, Wylie Democrats, and Deputy Voter Registrars for our Triple-Hit June block walks.
We'll register new voters, and introduce new county residents to our Democratic Women Candidates. Details on the walk locations for each Saturday will be communicated to those who sign up. Please come help make Collin County a Texas Democratic Battleground! And bring your friends, too.
During the fourth weekend in June, on June 26-27, Senate District 8 Delegates and Alternates from Collin County will go to the Texas Democratic Party State Convention at the Dallas Convention Center.
We want a good turnout of block walkers on June 7th, 14th, and 21st, so we can report to Democrats across Texas, at the State Convention, that we are working hard to make Collin County a Texas Democratic Battleground in Battle Year 2014!
We hope to see you every weekend in June!
Pol. Ad. Pd. for by Democratic Network
Wednesday, February 5, 2014
by Michael Handley
Since I am the Collin County Senatorial District 8 (SD8) Convention Chair, I created a convention information website that provides an A to Z collection of information about 2014 Democratic Party SD / County Convention procedure under the newly adopted Texas Democratic Party rules. While some of the convention information published on the website is tailored for the Collin County SD8 Convention, much of the information applies generally to Democratic Party SD / County Convention procedures. CLICK HERE to visit the SD8 Convention information website.
Many Democrats have questions about the TDP Rule change that moves Democratic Precinct Conventions from immediately after polling places close on Primary Election Day to the top of the SD / County Convention agenda, as a step in March 22nd Convention Day proceedings. Another TDP Rule change removes the requirement for Democrats to vote in the primary in order to attend their SD / County Convention. Any Democrat who is registered to vote and has taken an oath of affiliation or has voted in the Democratic primary may become a convention delegate and volunteer to serve on a committee at their SD or County Convention.
These changes to Democratic Party Convention procedure may be confusing to Republican Party primary voters, because, for the first time, convention rules are no longer the same for both Republicans and Democrats.
The Republican Party of Texas continues to convene Republican Precinct Conventions immediately after polling places close on Primary Election Day. Republican Party and Democratic Party convention notification signs displayed in primary polling place will give different information about party convention when, where, and how.
Perhaps all the more confusing for Republican and Democratic Party primary voters in Collin County is the agreement made between the Republican and Democratic Party County Chairs to depart from precinct based voting on Election Day.
Primary Election Day voting in Collin County, for the first time, will move from 130 traditional precinct-based primary polling locations to 63-65 "Voting Centers." Only Collin County in the North Central Texas area will have Election Day "Voting Centers." Most, but not all, Voting Center locations in Collin County will have both Republican and Democratic Party primary voting check-in desks. Four election day polling locations will offer only Democratic Party primary voting. (Collin County Election Day Voting Center locations ~ Early Voting Polling Locations)
Election Day Voting Centers work like Early Voting polling locations where registered voters living anywhere in Collin County may vote at any Voting Centers open around the county on Election Day. Collin County Republicans seeking to attend their precinct convention immediately after polling places close on Primary Election Day should contact the Collin County GOP office for details on which precinct conventions will convene at various locations around the county.
If you are a Democrat living in the Senate District 8 portion of Collin County, please plan to attend the Collin County Senatorial District 8 Convention on Saturday, March 22, 2014 at the Community Unitarian Universalist Church, 2875 E Parker Rd, Plano, TX 75074. (map) (Details)
In past years, the Democratic Party of Collin County convened a joint Senatorial District 8 and Senatorial District 30 "County Convention," within District 8 territory.
This year, on Saturday, March 22nd, each Senatorial District (SD) within Collin County will convene their own SD Convention within their own District's territory.
NOTE: Under the newly revised Texas Democratic Party rules, Precinct Conventions are no longer held immediately after polling places close on Primary Election Day.Any Democrat within the Senatorial District who is registered to vote and has taken an oath of affiliation or has voted in the Democratic primary may become a convention delegate and volunteer to serve on a Convention Committee.
Individual Precinct Conventions have moved from Primary Election Day to the top of the SD Convention agenda as an organizing step in Convention Day proceedings.
Tuesday, January 21, 2014
by Michael Handley
The party convention system in Texas was created to do several things: elect party officers at all levels, set party message and platform, and develop campaign volunteers and activists. Historically, Precinct Conventions convened in each election precinct immediately after precinct polling places closed on Primary Election Day. A main purpose of those Precinct Conventions was to elect delegates who would advance to their Senatorial District (SD) or County Convention.
Under the newly revised Texas Democratic Party rules, that Precinct Convention step is moved to the top of the SD or County Convention agenda. Senatorial District and County Conventions will convene across Texas on Saturday, March 22, 2014.Under party rules revised by the State Democratic Executive Committee (SDEC) on December 14, 2013, any Democrat within each County or Senatorial District who is registered to vote and has taken an oath of affiliation or has voted in the Democratic primary may attend their SD or County Convention. Attendees may use the convention registration page, newly provided on the Statewide Texas Democratic Party website, to register for their County or SD Convention, or they may simply walk in on convention day, Saturday, March 22, 2014. From County and SD Conventions, a subset of those delegates will be elected as Delegates and Alternates to the June 26 – 28th State Convention at the Dallas Convention Center.
If you have not already received a new VRC, you are likely NOT registered to vote. You should immediately check your registration status and take action to properly register, if you find you are not registered to vote in the county where you reside. You must be registered or have mailed voter registration application by February 3rd to be eligible to vote in the March 4, 2014 primary election.
To check your Collin Co. registration status - click here. To check your registration status in another Texas county - click here. If you find you are not registered to vote, you can find the Voter's Registration application for Collin Co. by clicking here or any county by clicking here. For specific information about voting in Texas, click here to find the Secretary of State’s pamphlet on Texas Voting.
Most women may notice something new on their Texas VRC this year. Voters' former names were added to the 2014 voter registration cards because the Texas Election Code (sections 15.001 and 13.002 of the Texas Election Code) says they should have been there for the last twenty years. Many women are concerned this change has something to do with the new voter I.D. law and that their name won't match their photo id I.D. In fact, this this has nothing to do with the new voter I.D. law. (Texas Secretary of State Election Advisory No. 2013-08)
Check how your name appears in the white mailing address box in the lower right quadrant of your new orange 2014-15 voter registration card. This is the name that appears on the official voter roll - and that will be the name listed on polling place poll books.
Friday, October 18, 2013
Two years ago I wrote an article for the Dem Blog News that said, in part:
"Perhaps the idea that the party's voter base, outside of Austin, is pervasively very conservative - an idea still active espoused by long time Democratic political strategists - is no longer right. Perhaps the idea that the party and it's candidates must continue to subscribe to conservative policy strategies, shunning all progressive/liberal policy positions, is a strategy that no longer works - even in Texas.I wrote that article in Nov. 2011, after the the State Democratic Executive Committee (SDEC) refused to approve progressive ballot initiatives for the 2012 primary ballot. But the Texas Democratic Party has taken a decidedly progressive turn under the leadership of Gilberto Hinojosa, who was elected chair of the state party at the June 2012 state Democratic Party convention.
It is, perhaps, time for party leaders to seriously consider whether the party finds itself struggling to raise money and attract new candidates, not because it's not conservative enough, but because the Democratic Party offers Texas voters no real and contrasting choice to the Tea Party Republican brand of politics.
It is definitely time for the Texas Democratic Party to discuss within its ranks the need for the party to engage in a conversation with its base constituencies to understand how to rebuild the party from the grassroots. "
Demonstrating that Texas Democrats have a new will to offer Texas voters a contrasting choice to the Tea Party Republican brand of conservative politics, the SDEC, meeting in Galveston on Saturday October 12, 2013, approved 19 progressive ballot referenda measures for the March 2014 Primary.
The proposed referenda are expected to appear on the TDP web site in the near future for public review, and approval to be placed on Democratic Primary ballots in Texas' 254 counties.
The 19 proposed ballot referenda:
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
This interactive chart explores the grants Texas has received through the ACA. Use the drop-down to sort by largest to smallest grants; grants issued to expand existing services; grants issued for innovation, planning and research; and grants focused on preventive measures.
This story was produced in partnership with Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan health policy research and communication organization not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.
This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at http://www.texastribune.org/2013/09/09/texas-has-received-millions-affordable-care-act/.
Sunday, September 1, 2013
by Michael Handley
The Constitution of the State of Texas describes the structure and function of government for the State of Texas. The current Constitution, ratified on February 15, 1876, during the post civil war reconstruction era, is the seventh constitution in Texas' history. The previous six were the constitution of Coahuila y Tejas, the 1836 Constitution of the Republic of Texas and the state constitutions of 1845, 1861, 1866, and 1869.
In 1876, Texans were deeply suspicious of state government, which had been controlled by governors and legislators they considered "carpetbaggers" during the immediate post civil war period. In framing their post civil war constitution, those early Texans sought to limit the power of the governor and legislature by writing a detailed and highly restrictive state constitution. Many provisions of the Texas Constitution, which can be ammended only by popular vote of the people of Texas, are implemented as legislation in most other states. The Texas Constitution specifies that the governor and legislature has only those powers explicitly granted by the constitution; there is no equivalent clause to the federal constitution's "Necessary and Proper" clause. To change the funding or function of government agencies, the Texas legislature, which meets during the winter and spring of odd number years, often must pass legislation to place constitutional amendment measures on that year's November General Election ballot.
Since it was originally ratified in 1876, a total of 653 constitutional amendments have been proposed, of which 474 have been approved by voters and 179 have been rejected, as of November 2011. This fall voters will be asked to approve 9 amendments to the Texas Constitution. Each of the amendments on the November 2013 ballot have been approved by two-thirds of the Texas House and Senate and will require majority approval from voters to take effect.
- Authorizes a tax exemption for all or part of the market value of the residences of spouses of military members who are killed in action. HJR 62
- Eliminate a requirement for a State Medical Education Board and a State Medical Education Fund. Neither is in operation, with the State Medical Education Board having been defunct for more than a quarter-century. HJR 79
- Extend the tax exemption period on storing aircraft parts in the state and would provide more tax relief to aerospace manufacturers, which often hold such parts in inventory for an extended period of time. HJR 133
- Give a partial property tax exemption on charity-donated residences to disabled veterans or their surviving spouses. The amendment would strike the current requirement that qualifying residents be "100 percent" disabled. HJR 24
- Allow homeowners age 62 or older to use reverse mortgages to purchase residences. The current law only expressly allows traditional mortgages, which lets such homeowners borrow against the equity of their homes. The amendment would allow the prospective borrower to use a Federal Housing Administration-insured home equity conversion mortgage to help buy a new home. SJR 18
- "Rainy Day Fund Amendment" to create two funds to help finance key projects in the state water plan by pulling about $2 billion from the Texas Economic Stabilization Fund. SJR 1
- Authorize home-rule municipalities to choose how to fill city council vacancies if the positions have less than 12 months remaining in a three- or four-year term. The amendment would remove the requirement to hold a mandatory special election for those positions. HJR 87
- Repeal a constitutional provision authorizing the creation of a hospital district in Hidalgo County. HJR 147
- Authorize the State Commission on Judicial Conduct to use additional disciplinary actions — including public admonition, warning, reprimand, or required additional training or education — against judges or justices after a hearing. The current law allows the SCJC to issue a public censure or recommend a judge's removal or retirement. SJR 42
Saturday, August 10, 2013
by Michael Handley
Congressman Marc Veasey will be the Democratic Network's guest speaker for its Sat. Nov. 9th discussion on voting rights. Join us at the John and Judy Gay Library, 6861 W. Eldorado Pkwy., McKinney, TX 75070. Coffee and reception at 10:45 a.m., with forum discussion from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Rep. Marc Veasey (D - Fort Worth) joined seven others in filing a federal lawsuit in June, asking a federal court to block Texas from enforcing its SB14 voter photo ID law.
Veasey, who represents Texas' 33rd Congressional District, one of four districts created during the latest redistricting battle, filed papers in Corpus Christi federal court saying that SB14, which requires voters to present select government-issued photo I.D. at polling places, will unconstitutionally deprive thousands of minorities of their right to vote and make re-election campaigns more expensive.
Veasey is also working with Minority Leader of the House, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, and others in Congress, on replacement legislation for Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, struck down by SCOTUS in June of this year.
The November 9th DemNet Forum, on the first Saturday after the first statewide Election Day to possibly require voter photo I.D., will be an interesting discussion. I hope you can make it!
Thursday, July 25, 2013
by Michael Handley (Updated Thursday July 25, 2013, 10:08 a.m. - U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder tells Texas, maybe not, on immediate photo I.D. enforcement. Update noted below.)
On June 25, 2013, the Supreme Court struck down a part of the Voting Rights Act that required Texas and other states to get a federal DOJ or District Court approval before implementing any election law change.
The Court struck down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, the provision of the landmark civil rights law that designates which parts of the country must have changes to their voting laws cleared by the U.S. Department of Justice or a federal court. With Section 4 now invalidated, the states listed in Section 4, which includes Texas, are no longer compelled to comply with Section 5 preclearance requirements. Those states are now free to enforce laws previously blocked under Section 5 regulations.
On August 30, 2012, a federal DC Court three-judge panel blocked Texas' new SB14 Voter Photo I.D. Law, under provisions of the Voting Rights Act struck down by the Supreme Court. The three-judge panel found that SB 14 imposed "strict, unforgiving burdens on the poor" and noted that racial minorities in Texas are more likely to live in poverty.
The Department of Justice pointed out that hundreds of thousands of registered voters in Texas were without the necessary identification and were thus at risk of disenfranchisement. A disproportionate number were Latino.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, dissenting from the June 25th SCOTUS ruling, highlighted a paradox at the heart of the majority opinion: “In the court’s view, the very success of Section 5 [and 4] of the Voting Rights Act demands its dormancy”.
Ginsburg, supported by justices Sephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, said it is the very success of pre-clearance that underlines why it must be preserved. “The Voting Rights Act has worked to combat voting discrimination where other remedies have been tried and failed,” she writes.Opponents of pre-clearance under Sections 4 and 5 of the Voting Rights Act say that Section 2 will be sufficient on its own as a safeguard against future discrimination. But the burden of challenging new electoral laws now shifts from the federal government to the individual voter.
In her dissent, Ginsburg lists some of the insidious changes to voting laws that could now creep back into the American electoral landscape. Under pre-clearance, states including Texas have been blocked from racial gerrymandering by redrawing electoral boundaries in an attempt to create segregated legislative districts.
Pamela Karlan, a professor at Stanford law school who had previously filed an amicus brief on behalf of the bipartisan House Judiciary Committee leadership supporting the constitutionality of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, said that by striking down pre-clearance the supreme court had “shifted the burden away from the perpetrators of discrimination and onto the shoulders of the victims of discrimination. Local minority voters will now have to find a lawyer and go to court to argue voting rights infringement under Section 2 – and for many that will be very difficult.”
Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act forbids states from enacting voting restrictions that have a greater impact on minority voters than on others. There is, however, a catch. Samuel Bagenstos, who was until recently the number two official in the U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division, has said that the DOJ can't bring a Section 2 lawsuit claiming voter disenfranchisement, until after voters have been disenfranchised:
“In order to bring a Section 2 case, you’d have to as a practical matter show two things. One, that there’s a significant racial disparity and two, that the burden of getting an ID is significant enough for us to care about.Minority Leader of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said Wednesday that Congressional Democrats are planning new legislation to render ineffective Chief Justice Roberts Court's decision on the Voting Rights Act. Congress must enact new Section 4 provisions that specify the states and localities that must seek election law preclearance under Section 5 requirements. But many question whether such legislation has any chance of passing in the Republican controlled House. (How to Save the Voting Rights Act)
Any Section 2 case would almost certainly have to wait until after the next election, since the evidence that the laws were discriminatory “can only be gathered during an election that takes place when the law is enacted.”
Shortly after the Supreme Court read its decision striking down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott tweeted that nothing now stands in the way of the state enforcing its controversial SB 14 voter photo ID law.
“With today’s decision, the State’s voter ID law will take effect immediately,” Abbott announced. “Redistricting maps [as originally] passed by the Legislature [in the 2011 legislative session] may also take effect without approval from the federal government.”On Thursday, June 27, 2013 the Supreme Court followed up its Tuesday, June 25th, ruling on Section 4 of the VRA, officially vacating and kicking back the DC Court three-judge panel's August 2012 ruling that blocked Texas' voter photo I.D. law. SCOTUS' action was a predictable result of its ruling, effectively ending the federal government's oversight of elections in Texas and other states with a history of discrimination in voting. The justices ordered lower courts to reconsider, in light of Tuesday's ruling, the status of previous low court rulings on appeal to SCOTUS, as was Texas' I.D. law. Legal experts remain divided on what the Supreme Court's rulings mean for the election laws that had been blocked under Section 5 review, and it could be weeks before the district courts weigh in. The district three-judge panel courts, have several options, including restarting the arguments based on SCOTUS' Tuesday ruling, or weighing the case without additional briefing. In the mean time, Texas and other states listed in Section 4 are not waiting to start enforcement of those laws. Yet, states with a district court or DOJ judgment against them, must clear that judgment to be before the law can be enforced.
U.S. Rep. Marc Veasey (D - Fort Worth) joined seven others Wednesday in filing a federal lawsuit to keep Texas from enforcing its voter ID law. Veasey, who represents the 33rd Congressional District, one of four districts created statewide during the latest redistricting battle, filed the papers in Corpus Christi federal court saying that under Section 2 of the VRA, SB 14, which requires voters to present a government-issued photo I.D. at polling places, will unconstitutionally deprive thousands of minorities of their right to vote and make re-election campaigns more expensive.
Sections 3 of the Voting Rights Act could possibly provide the same protections afforded under Sections 4 and 5. Section 3 of the VRA contains a "bail-in" process by which jurisdictions outside the coverage formula of Section 4 that violate other provisions of the Voting Rights Act may become subject to preclearance. Unlike Section 5 preclearance, the period of coverage is based on a ruling or consent decree issued by a federal court, and the scope of coverage may be limited to particular types of voting law changes. Although the Supreme Court held the coverage formula of Section 4 unconstitutional in its Shelby decision, it did not hold Section 3 unconstitutional; thus, bailed-in jurisdictions remain subject to preclearance. Lyle Denniston of ScotusBlog.com explains it saying:
"There is another provision of the law, potentially a back-up (Section 3), that allows the government to go to court to ask that a new state or local government be put under Section 5 because of its more recent history in dealing with minority voters. Two states have been brought under Section 5 that way--Arkansas and New Mexico--along with several county governments, including Los Angeles County in California. The Court's main opinion did not even mention Section 3, but the dissenters referred to it briefly as a "bail-in mechanism" that has worked. If a challenger now seeks to employ that provision, it presumably will have to show that bias is still a present-day problem there."In a 2010 Yale Law Journal article, Travis Crum called Section 3 "The Voting Rights Act's secret weapon," one that "the academic literature has ignored":
Commonly called the bail-in mechanism for pockets of voting discrimination, Section 3 authorizes federal courts to place states and political subdivisions that have violated the Fourteenth or Fifteenth Amendments under preclearance. Designed to trigger coverage in "pockets of discrimination" missed by section 5's formula [sic; the formula is actually defined in Section 4], section 3 was included in the original Voting Rights Act.Preclearance under Section 3 does not suffer from the constitutional infirmity that doomed Section 4. It requires a contemporary factual finding of discrimination, either a decision by a judge or an acknowledgment by the defendant jurisdiction. That is to say that even absent congressional action, preclearance remains among the tools available to the Justice Department and voting-rights advocates. They just have to prove their case before using it. In 2012, a federal court ruling in the Texas' redistricting case and another federal court ruling on Texas' restrictive voter photo I.D. law found that Texas lawmakers passed legislation related to each case that had "the intent and effect" of discriminating against minorities.
In the VRA Section 5 review of Texas'redistricting legislation, the federal three judge panel said it was “persuaded by the totality of the evidence that the plan was enacted with discriminatory intent,” according to the ruling. There was “sufficient evidence to conclude that the Congressional Plan was motivated, at least in part, by discriminatory intent,” the court found. The three judges said they were overwhelmed with the amount of evidence showing the congressional redistricting plan was intentionally discriminatory, writing in a footnote that parties “have provided more evidence of discriminatory intent than we have space, or need, to address here.” The Justice Department could refer to those two court findings to ask a federal court to "bail" Texas back into a preclearance regimen for updates to election laws and procedures.
Update July 25, 2013 @ 10:08 a.m. CDT -Originally set to go into effect on January 1, 2012, the Texas Photo I.D. Law (SB14) requires voters to present one of a limited selection of government issued photo I.D. to election Judges in order to qualify to vote. The accepted forms of currently dated photo identification include:
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced today that the Justice Department will invoke Section 3 of the VRA in the battle for voting rights that could block Texas from enforcing its strict voter photo I.D. law. Quote Holder, "And today I am announcing that the Justice Department will ask a federal court in Texas to subject the State of Texas to a preclearance regime similar to the one required by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. This request to “bail in” the state – and require it to obtain “pre-approval” from either the Department or a federal court before implementing future voting changes – is available under the Voting Rights Act when intentional voting discrimination is found. Based on the evidence of intentional racial discrimination that was presented last year in the redistricting case, Texas v. Holder – as well as the history of pervasive voting-related discrimination against racial minorities that the Supreme Court itself has recognized – we believe that the State of Texas should be required to go through a preclearance process whenever it changes its voting laws and practices." Click here for full text of Holder's speech:
The Justice Department will make Section 3 related filings, announced by Holder, with the the San Antonio U.S. District Court three-judge panel that controls Texas' not yet concluded interim redistricting map case, that originated in late 2011. The Justice Department will likely also join the with Congressman Marc Veasey and others in their suit filed in a Corpus Christi federal court to stop implementation of the SB14 voter I.D. law. It may take some time for the Section 3 technical legal maneuvering to play out, which may or may not result in the SA Court deciding that Texas should be bailed-into the preclearance regimen under Section 3. The court may or may not decided to block Texas' enforcement of its voter photo I.D. law, while the Section 3 bail-in question is under consideration. Even if Texas is again bailed into the preclearance regimen, it would likely take additional court maneuvering to deal with the voter SB14 voter I.D. law. For now, at least, Texas can continue plans to enforce its voter photo I.D. law for the Texas Constitutional Amendment Election in November 2013 and the 2014 primary and general elections.
- Texas DPS issued Driver’s License or Personal Identification Card;
- Texas DPS issued Election Identification Certificate (EIC);
- US passport;
- US military ID;
- Texas concealed weapons license; or
- US citizenship papers containing a photo.
To qualify to vote, their is no requirement for the Election Judge or Clerk to determine that the photo on the voter's I.D. substantially resembles the voter, but SB14 does require that the name on the I.D. is substantially the same name listed in the poll book.
Voters who present a driver's license, pass port, citizenship certificate or other photo I.D. to the election judge that has a different first, middle, and last name than appears on the poll list, the voter has a problem. How big of a problem depends on how much the names vary between the I.D. and the poll list.
Only 66% of women have an I.D. that reflects their current name. Newlywed women often update their driver's license with their new married name, but neglect to update the their voter registration and other documents. Many married women use their maiden name as their middle name on some documents, especially their driver's license, and use their given middle name in other circumstances, like registering to vote, or vice versa. Some married woman adopt a hyphenated last name that combines their maiden last name and husband last name, but not uniformly on all documents. Asian-American women who are naturalized citizens often adopt an Americanized name on many documents, like registering to vote, but that name isn't the same as on their citizenship certificate.
A mismatch on just the middle name between the I.D. and poll list will definitely result in the voter being required to complete an affidavit attesting to their true identity. A newlywed woman who presents a driver's license with a different middle and last name as printed on the poll list may be require to vote a provisional ballot at the polling place and then travel to the county elections office one to six days after Election Day to present proof of her identity.
The Texas Department of Public Safety announced shortly after the Supreme Court read its decision that starting Thursday, June 27, 2013, Texas driver license offices will begin issuing free Election Identification Certificates to anyone who doesn't already have another of the government issued photo I.D. documents. (DPS Webpage for EIC Info.)
Under the 2011 state law creating one of the state’s most strict voter I.D. laws, the certificates are free and valid for six years - which means they must be periodically renewed. However, there is no expiration date of an EIC for citizens 70 years of age or older.
To qualify for any Texas Department of Public Safety issued photo I.D., an applicant must give proof of U.S. citizenship and Texas residency by presenting identity documents. These identity documents include an unexpired Texas driver license, Texas Identification card, or U.S. Passport book or card. For most who don't have one of those primary identification documents, already, they must present an original or certified copy of a birth certificate issued by their birth state's Bureau of Vital Statistics, along with another identity document listed under a menu of documents. This menu of documents includes a Voter Registration Card.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Sunday, July 21, 2013
The Democratic Network Educational Forum on Saturday, September 14, 2013, will be a discussion on Battle Year 2014: Texas Primaries and Politics. Join us at the John and Judy Gay Library, 6861 W. Eldorado Pkwy., McKinney, TX 75070. Coffee and reception at 10:45 a.m., with forum discussion from 11:00
a.m. to 12:30 p.m., followed by round table discussion to 1:00 p.m.
Tanene Allison, Texas Democratic Party Communications Director, will join Judge Bonnie Goldstein and Michael Handley to discuss the statewide and county level offices up for the March 4, 2014 primary election, candidates who have announced they will file to have their name listed on the 2014 Democratic and Republican primary ballots, the ballot filing process, the party run primary election process, precinct conventions, senatorial district v. county conventions, and what happens at each party's state convention.
The discussion will include a high level overview of offices that will appear on each party's primary ballot by reviewing the structure of Texas' elected executive, legislative, and judicial offices, and each party's statutory place in that structure and the primary election process. Tanene Allison will review what the Texas Democratic Party and Battleground Texas organizations are doing to expand the base of Texas Democratic voters.
Thursday, July 18, 2013
by Michael Handley
Join us for a Democratic Network Educational Forum discussion at 10:45 a.m. on August 10th, at the John and Judy Gay Library in McKinney.
Collin County Elections Administrator Sharon Rowe will join Judge Bonnie Goldstein and Michael Handley for the Forum to talk about the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to strike down Section 4 of Voting Rights Act and Texas' immediately decision to start enforcement of its SB14 Voter Photo I.D. Law. Enforcement of that law had been blocked by District Court order in August 2012, under the VRA.
The forum discussion will cover SCOTUS' decision, the new Photo I.D. voting requirements, and what steps candidates, who are planning to run in 2014, and political organizations should take to prepare for photo I.D. law enforcement. That law will be enforced by election officials at polling places for the 2014 Primary and General Elections, if further court action does not block its implementation.
August 10, 2013
Join us on Saturday morning at the John and Judy Gay Library, 6861 W. Eldorado Pkwy., McKinney, TX 75070.
Coffee and reception at 10:45 a.m., with forum discussion from 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., followed by round table discussion to 1:00 p.m. Some may wish to adjourn to a restaurant for lunch and continued discussion after the forum.
RSVP to FaceBook event.