Sunday, October 28, 2012

Early Voting In Collin Co.

by Michael Handley

Through the first Thursday of early voting, Texas' 15 largest counties reported nearly 1.18 million in-person and mail ballots had been cast, a 6.8 percent increase over the same period in 2008.

Early voting continues to be brisk in Collin County. The number of ballots cast through Friday is running 10.4 percent ahead of the first six days of 2008 early voting.

While that 10.4 percent numerical increase seems impressive, the enthusiasm of 2012 early voters is not necessarily higher than in 2008. In fact, a case can be made that enthusiasm is down. Take into account that with the county's rapid population growth, the number of people living in Collin Co. has increased from an estimated Voting Age Population (VAP) of 547,209 in 2008  to  667,776 potential voters in 2012.

The table at right projects possible 2012 turnout final numbers for Collin Co. by applying 2008 turnout patterns to current population estimates (Texas DSHS Center for Health Statistics) and voter registration numbers. Approximately 72 percent of population are voting age persons.

In 2008, 77.8 percent (425,994) of the VAP was registered to vote, but only 68.7 percent (458,872) of the Collin Co. VAP is registered for the 2012 general election.

This decrease in the percentage of eligible voters interested in registering to vote certainly suggests a drop in voter enthusiasm from 2008 to 2012. Are those less interested potential voters Republicans, Democrats or a little of both?

To keep things in perspective, 22.5 percent of registered Collin Co. voters turned out to vote during the first six days of 2008 early voting, while the comparable 2012 accumulated turnout of registered voters is only 23.1 percent.

Comparing the 2008 to 2012 daily percentage of registered Collin Co. voters going to polling places also shows little change in voter enthusiasm. 

The impressive numerical turnout increase over 2008 for 2012 days one and two followed by significantly less impressive days three, four, five and six of Collin Co. early voting suggests that perhaps some of the early vote may have simply shifted to the early days of early voting.

Collin Co.Daily
Percentage of
Registered Voters
Voting
A Gallup poll out Friday shows the make up of the electorate nationally also remains virtually unchanged since the 2008 election. The survey of likely voters shows nonwhites, blacks and Hispanics sharing roughly the same share of the electorate they did in 2008.

According to Gallup's year by year analysis, blacks account for 11 percent of voters this year when in 2008, they made up 12 percent of the electorate. And Gallup predicts Hispanics grew to be 7 percent of the electorate, a one point increase since 2008.

"Key elements of President Barack Obama's electoral coalitions, such as racial minorities, women, young adults and postgraduates will likely turn out at rates similar to those in 2008," the survey says.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

DBN Endorses Jack Ternan For Texas Senate District 8

by Michael Handley, Democratic Blog News Managing Editor

Jack Ternan's campaign for Texas Senate District 8 last week released two campaign videos. Jack G. B. Ternan, Jr. is the Democratic candidate for Texas State Senate, District 8.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

2012 Early Voting In Collin Co. Starts Brisk

At the end of the first days of 2012 early voting in Collin County, the vote count was running well ahead of 2008 early voting. This year, 16,531 people voted in-person on day one, 18,063 people voted on day two and 16,673 people voted on day three  of early voting.  Plus, 4,997 vote by mail ballots had been returned to the Collin County Early Voting Clerk by the second day of early voting.

In 2008, 13,900 people voted on the first day, 15,356 people voted on day two and 15,563 people voted on day three of early voting in Collin Co.

Collin Co. November General Election
Election Year 2008 2012
Total Population 760,013 927,466
Registered Voters  425,994 460,000
Voting Age Population (VAP) 547,209 667,776
Percentage of VAP Registered 77.8% 68.9%
Total Turnout 298,647 317,400
Early Turnout In-Person 211,637 225,037
Percent Early 70.9% 70.9%
Election Day Turnout In-Person 75,009 79,350
Percent Election Day 25.1% 25.0%
Vote By Mail Turnout 11,834 12,696
Percent VBM 4.0% 4.0%
Percent of Turnout to Registered 70.1% 69.0%
Percent of Turnout to VAP 54.6% 47.5%

According to Texas DSHS Center for Health Statistics population estimates, Collin Co. has grown to 927,466 residents during 2012, with approximately 72 percent of that number representing voting age persons.

The table at right projects possible 2012 turnout numbers for Collin Co. by applying 2008 turnout patterns to current population estimates and voter registration numbers.

Turnout across the rest of North Texas is also strong. More than 70,000 voters cast ballots Monday in Dallas, Tarrant, Collin and Denton Counties. Texas turned out in high numbers across the state on the first day of early voting, too, setting records in some places.

The Texas Secretary of State reported Tuesday that more than 378,000 people cast early ballots Monday in the state's 15 most populous counties, either by mail or in person. That's about 4.6 percent of the registered voters in those counties. More than 32,000 people cast early ballots in Dallas County and another 30,000 ballots were cast in Tarrant County. In Denton County, 12,000 people turned out to vote early.

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Sunday, October 21, 2012

GO VOTE!

Early voting for the November 6, 2012 General Election starts Monday October 22, 2012. November 6, 2012 General Election Information:

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Presidential Debate Watch: Get Fired Up And Ready To Vote

We invite you to get "fired up and ready to go" for the rest of the campaign Monday evening, October 22nd by attending a Debate Watch at Rugby House Pub, in north west Plano ~ 8604 Preston Rd., Suite 100, Plano, Tx 75024. (map)

Come watch the October 22nd debate between Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama with your Democratic friends and neighbors. The debate telecast starts a 8:00 pm, but you are welcome to come early to order drinks and food and chat with your friends and neighbors.

This 90-minute debate, moderated by CBS' Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer, telecast from Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida, will be broken up into six time segments of approximately 15 minutes, each on Foreign Policy.


The Texas Democratic Women of Collin County, Democratic Network, Democratic Blog News, Plano Drinking Liberally and a local OFA group are co-sponsors of this debate watch event at Rugby House Pub media room. 

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State Education Budget Cuts Hit Collin Co. Schools

Of the $5.4 billion cut from public education, the school districts in Texas Senate District 8 suffered an estimated loss of $119.2 million in 2013, according to the Legislative Budget Board. Plano, Frisco and Richardson ISDs were dealt the lion's share, losing $35.1 million, $26.9 million and $20.9 million respectively.

"The millions of dollars that were cut from schools in District 8 have had a direct impact in the classrooms," Democratic candidate for Texas Senate District 8 Jack Ternan said. "Our elementary schools sent more than 400 class size waiver requests to the Texas Education Agency, and 289 of those waivers came from Richardson ISD alone."

"Voting to cut funds from public education like Rep. Paxton did is irresponsible," Ternan said. "Education is the backbone in our community. It must be supported if we want our kids to succeed in the future."

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Saturday, October 20, 2012

DMN Endorses Paul Sadler for U.S. Senate

Dallas Morning News Editorial Board Endorses Paul Sadler for U.S. Senate

Texans face a decision in this election that has come before them only twice over the last four decades: How to fill a Senate seat that has carried with it a proud lineage of service to the state and nation.

Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison is stepping down after almost 20 years in Washington, where she made it a top priority to look out for Texans’ national, state and even personal needs. She first won her post in 1993, succeeding Democrat Lloyd Bentsen, who served for 22 years. Like Hutchison, he provided consistent constituent aid as well as leadership on national and state matters.

The committed work of these two bipartisan leaders to their state creates an impressive, demanding legacy for their successor. Recommending the right candidate to follow in the Hutchison-Bentsen tradition is a responsibility this newspaper takes seriously. That’s why we’ve interviewed both candidates multiple times, examined their public careers, reviewed their answers to our questionnaire, spoken with others who know them well and followed their activities on the campaign trail.

After that thorough examination, we believe Democrat Paul Sadler, 57, is the best person to uphold this legacy of service to Texas and to keep our state relevant where it matters most.

Read the full endorsement editorial @ The Dallas Morning News.


Ted Cruz would eliminate the Department of Education,
cutting billions more from Texas' education budget.



Paul Sadler speaks to Texans in Houston, TX

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Record Voter Registrations in Collin Co.

by Michael Handley

New voter registration applications postmarked by Tuesday October 9th that had been processed through Wednesday pushed Collin County to a record 458,161 registered voters. When the last registration application for this election has been processed, the number of registered Collin County voters will likely top 460K. That is a significant increase over the 438,206 voters registered for the July 31, 2012 runoff election and the 425K registered voters for the 2008 general election.

As another indication that Collin Co voter interest in the 2012 election may be as strong as in 2008, the Collin County Elections Clerk has already processed over 9,000 vote by mail applications and received back over 3,000 vote by mail ballot envelopes.  In 2008, 11,834 vote by mail ballots were returned to the County Elections Clerk.

Texas November 2008 
General Election
Registered Voters  13,575,062 
Voting Age Population (VAP) 17,735,442 
Percentage of VAP Registered 76.5%
Turnout 8,077,795 
Percent of Turnout to Registered 59.5%
Percent of Turnout to VAP 45.5%
Earlier this week, Texas Secretary of State Hope Andrade announced that Texas reached a record number of registered voters.  As of Monday, October 15, there were 13,594,264 voters registered across Texas' 254 counties, which is 71 percent of the estimated 19,194,381 voting age Texans.

The previous record number of registered voters was 13,575,062, set for the November 2008 General Election.  Despite the surge in registrations back in 2008, only 59.5 percent of registered Texas voters actually cast a ballot that November.  Texas is at the bottom of the list of all states for the percentage of voting age persons who register to vote and then actually turns out to vote.

Due to the volume of voter registration applications submitted just prior to the registration deadline, many local county election officials are still processing applications. October 9th was the last day to drop a voter registration application in a mailbox in order to be registered to vote in the November 6, 2012 General Election.

It is anyone's guess how many Texans will turn out to vote for this election. One safe guess is that at least two thirds of the Texas ballots will be cast during early voting.  Texas was a pioneer in early voting.  In 1987, the Texas legislature passed legislation calling for early no-excuse absentee voting.  That legislation created the opportunity for Texans to vote in person at the county election office in each of Texas' 254 counties.

In 1991, the early voting law was amended to require a minimum number of early voting locations in each county.    Originally, the early voting period began twenty days prior to the election and ended four days prior to the election, providing seventeen days of early voting. Amendments have set the early voting to either twelve days for general elections and primary elections or nine days for elections held on the May uniform election date.

Since its inception in 1988, the percentage of the vote that is cast early has increased significantly. From 1988 to 1992, the percentage of the early vote increased from slightly more than 20 percent to approximately 33 percent.

The graph  traces the rise of early voting since 1994, surpassing 50 percent in 2004 and climbing to two-thirds of the vote in 2008.

In 2008, 66.5 percent of statewide Texas ballots and 70.1 percent of Collin County ballots were cast during in-person early voting.

The fast start to 2012 early voting, in states where early voting has already started, suggests that overall turnout this year, both early and on Election Day, will not be substantially lower than 2008.

Early voting, so far, is on pace to exceed 2008 levels, when 30.6 percent of all votes nationally were cast prior to Election Day.  Early voting has been particularly brisk this year in Iowa and Ohio, where early voting numbers are running well above their comparable 2008 levels. Nationally, more than 3,344,856 people have already voted in the 2012 general election where early in-person and absentee mail voting is underway.

Early voting in Texas begins at 8:00 am Monday, October 22nd and runs through 7:00 pm Friday, November 2nd. (Texas polling places and times at VoteTexas.gov and for Collin Co. at CollinCountyTx.gov)

Turnout across Texas' 254 counties in 2012 could look similar to the 2008 county-by-county turnout when Obama received 43.6 percent of the statewide vote to McCain's 55.4 percent.  Obama won 28 counties and won 54 percent of the statewide vote from voters ages 18-29, McCain won the rest of Texas. 

In the last three Texas general elections, nine counties have made up between 51-54% of the total vote: Harris, Dallas, Tarrant, Bexar, Travis, Collin, Denton, Fort Bend and El Paso.  In 2004, these counties represented 52.93% of the total vote and in 2008, they represented 54.32% of the total vote.  In 2006 and 2008, Democrats won straight ticket voting in six (Harris, Dallas, Bexar, Travis, Fort Bend and El Paso) of the nine counties, but won only two counties in the top nine (Dallas and Travis) in 2010.

In the 2008 general election, 170,076 Collin Co. voters cast a straight party ballot with 66.2 percent of that number (112,595) voting straight Republican to 33.2 percent (56,593) voting straight Democratic Party. The remaining 128,571 voters marked each ballot position individually. McCain won Collin Co. with 184,897 (62%) votes to Obama's 109,047 (37%) votes.

Collin Co. November General Election
Election Year 2008 2012
Total Population 760,013 927,466
Registered Voters  425,994 460,000
Voting Age Population (VAP) 547,209 667,776
Percentage of VAP Registered 77.8% 68.9%
Total Turnout 298,647 317,400
Early Turnout In-Person 211,637 225,037
Percent Early 70.9% 70.9%
Election Day Turnout In-Person 75,009 79,350
Percent Election Day 25.1% 25.0%
Vote By Mail Turnout 11,834 12,696
Percent VBM 4.0% 4.0%
Percent of Turnout to Registered 70.1% 69.0%
Percent of Turnout to VAP 54.6% 47.5%
 In the 2010 general election, Collin Co. Republicans won 72.9 percent of the the straight ticket vote. In contrast, 60 percent of the 2008 straight ticket vote and 53 percent of the 2010 straight ticket vote in Dallas Co. was for the Democratic Party.  Democrats swept Dallas Co. in 2008 and hung on to those wins in the 2010 General Election.

While population is decreasing in some Texas counties, other counties continue their strong population growth.  According to Texas DSHS Center for Health Statistics population estimates, Collin Co. has grown to 927,466 residents during 2012, with approximately 72 percent of that number representing voting age persons.

The table at right projects possible 2012 turnout numbers for Collin Co. by applying 2008 turnout patterns to current population estimates and voter registration numbers.

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Friday, October 19, 2012

Democratic Candidates For 5th District Court of Appeals

5th Court of Appeals candidates speaking at Parr Library
On Thursday, there was a reception at Plano Parr Library for the Democratic candidates for 5th District Court of Appeals.

The judicial candidates talked about why it is so important that you care about who serves on your Court of Appeals. 

The Texas District Courts of Appeals are distributed in fourteen districts around the state of Texas.

The Courts of Appeal have intermediate appellate jurisdiction in both civil and criminal cases appealed from district or county courts. Like the Texas Supreme Court and Court of Criminal Appeals, Justices of the Texas Courts of Appeals are elected to six-year terms by general election.

The Court of Appeals for the Fifth District of Texas at Dallas, which includes one Chief Justice and twelve Justices, has jurisdiction over appeals from both district and county courts located in Dallas, Collin, Grayson, Hunt, Rockwall and Kaufman counties.

No Democrats currently sit on Fifth Court of Appeals. In the 2012 General Election, five Democratic Candidates are running for the 5th Court of Appeals:
  • Tonya Holt for 5th District Court of Appeals Place 11
  • Penny Phillips for 5th District Court of Appeals Place 5
  • Larry Praeger for 5th District Court of Appeals Place 12
  • David Hanshen for 5th District Court of Appeals Place 9
  • Dan Wood for 5th District Court of Appeals Place 2
Both civil and criminal appeals are typically heard by a panel of three justices, unless in a particular case "en banc" hearing is ordered, in which instance all the justices of that Court hear and consider the case. (Graphical Guide to the Court System of Texas) (map)


Candidates in picture from left

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Friday, October 12, 2012

TDWCC 6th Annual Fundraiser Dinner

Texas Democratic Women of Collin County (TDWCC) will have its 6th Annual Fundraiser Dinner, Moving Texas Forward, starting at 5:00 pm on Sunday, October 21 at Fairview Farms Corral Party Barn.  (map)  (Details and RSVP)

Keynote Speaker this year is Texas House Representative Carol Alvarado (HD-145), an outspoken supporter for women’s rights and health issues, with invited guest, Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa.

Rep. Alvarado speaking about the Texas Transvaginal Sonogram bill on the House floor.  Video segment from .
During the 2011 session of the Texas Legislature Rep. Alvarado spoke against the Texas "Transvaginal Sonogram" bill that the Republican dominated Texas Legislature passed and sent to Gov. Perry to sign into law.

Alvarado stood at the front of the Texas House chamber brandishing a 10-inch trans-vaginal sonogram wand while describing its invasive purpose in graphic detail. "There are two different kinds of sonograms," she said. "The abdominal, which I think most of our colleagues may think ‘jelly on the belly’ that would be done there, but that’s not the case. A woman that is eight to 10 weeks pregnant would have to get a transvaginal sonogram."

Alvarado also strongly opposes Gov. Perry's and the Republican dominated Texas Legislature's efforts to defund Planned Parenthood in Texas. Researchers at George Washington University have found that if Texas manages to exclude Planned Parenthood from participating in the Texas Women's Health Program (WHP), "tens of thousands of low-income Texas women could lose access to affordable family planning services and to other women’s health services. From the GWU study, which looked at five Texas markets, including rural Lubbock, Hidalgo and Midland counties as well as urban Bexar County, which contains San Antonio, and Dallas County:
"If Planned Parenthood affiliates were excluded from WHP, the remaining non-PPFA clinics would have to absorb a massive increase in WHP patients in order to maintain the overall 2011 caseload level. Non-PPFA clinics in Bexar and Dallas Counties would have to double their capacity. Lubbock County providers would need to expand by 250% if the Planned Parenthood affiliate was excluded. In Hidalgo and Midland Counties, the average non-PPFA clinics would have to serve more than five times their current caseloads. In these five markets, the WHP caseloads would need to expand by two to five times their current capacity in order to absorb the patients already served by Planned Parenthood."
This is a situation entirely of Republican lawmakers' drastic family planning budget cuts in 2011 and this year's attempt at excluding Planned Parenthood from the WHP, though pending litigation has delayed the ultimate ruling on Planned Parenthood's fate.

Tx House Rep. Carol Alvarado
Rep. Alvarado has served in the Texas House as a Representative from Houston since 2009. Prior to moving to the House, she was a 3-term member of the Houston City Council. While on the Council she was on the Board of Directors of the Texas Municipal League.

She is a native of Houston, and graduated from the University of Houston with a BA in Political Science and an MA in Business Administration. Her Committee assignments include Vice Chair of Urban Affairs, Public Health, and Redistricting.

Dinner Details and RSVP

Related Video:

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Voter Empowerment And Poll Greeters

by Deborah Angell-Smith

Join us for Democratic Network Educational Forum discussion on the role and importance of poll greeters, at 10:45am this Sat., October 13th, at the John & Judy Gay Library in McKinney. (John & Judy Gay Library - 6861 El Dorado Parkway,  McKinney - Map)

If you're reading this, you're someone who is probably going to be on the "front lines" of this election. Whether you're going to be a poll greeter, election worker, poll watcher or campaign worker, it's important that you know the "rules of engagement" and how to be most effective at whatever you do. Our next Democratic Network Forum will help!

This Saturday morning, October 13th, Barbara Walters, President of Texas Democratic Women - Collin County, veteran activist and professional trainer, will present a program designed for poll greeters (the dedicated folks who stand outside of polling places encouraging voters to vote for Democratic candidates), but it will also be helpful for election workers, poll watchers and campaign workers. If you're not sure which role suits you best, Barb's presentation will help you figure it out! Regardless of where you fit into the election picture, she'll fill you in on the basics of behavior in and around polling places so you don't get yourself (or your candidate) in trouble, and make the best use of your time.

Saturday
October 13, 2012
13
Don't forget, the King Street Patriots, local Tea Party groups and conservative activists of all stripes are actively recruiting and training followers to "True the Vote" in ways that are clearly designed to intimidate legitimate voters and suppress votes from ethnic and religious minorities, young people and other targeted populations. On the heels of months of conflicts and court fights, confusion and errors in the election process are virtually guaranteed, and many voters still have concerns about the electronic voting machines. There WILL be problems, and as an activist, you'll want to be ready to help in any way you can.

Our program will be held at the John & Judy Gay Library in McKinney, 6861 El Dorado Parkway, just east of Alma. There's plenty of room, and we need as many Democrats as we can find informed and ready to step in wherever they're needed, so PLEASE BRING OTHERS WITH YOU! Join us for coffee and breakfast goodies at 10:45 am and the program will get started at 11. We'll wrap up by 1 pm and those who care to continue the discussion can adjourn to a nearby restaurant for lunch.

Like most activists, the Democratic Network Forum will take a break in November and December. We encourage you to recuperate from the election, rest and spend time with your family and friends. We'll see you at various holiday parties and be back in January with informative programs to educate you about issues that affect us here in Collin County, and what we, as Democrats, can do to make things better. Keep in mind that the Texas Legislature starts back up again in January, and local candidates will be filing for city council and school board elections, so we'll have plenty to talk about!

As always, we invite your input on topics, speakers, format and other options - and encourage you to get involved in growing our network. We'll have sign-up and comment sheets at the event, but if you aren't able to attend, please e-mail us at info@collindems.net, or call (469) 713-2031 to leave a voice message.


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FRIEND ON FACEBOOK



FORWARD TO A FRIEND

Democratic Network Educational Forum

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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Role and Importance Of Poll Greeters

Join us for another Democratic Network Educational Forum discussion on Voter Empowerment and Election Protection, at 10:45am this Sat., October 13th, at the John & Judy Gay Library in McKinney. The Forum this month will provide training on the role and importance of poll greeters, including what we all can do to protect voters' rights. LOTS of poll greeters will be needed so ask your friends to attend this Forum presentation. There will also be additional discussion about the duties of poll watchers. (John & Judy Gay Library - 6861 El Dorado Parkway - Map)

Remember 2000? Hanging chads, voter suppression, overwhelming confusion and voting machines that may - or may not - have counted the votes as they were cast. There were critical failures at many key points along the way that resulted in a stolen election and eight long years of regret. 

Today, the King Street Patriots, Tea Party groups and conservative activists of all stripes are recruiting and training followers to "True the Vote" in ways that are clearly designed to intimidate legitimate voters and suppress votes from ethnic and religious minorities, young people and other targeted populations. On the heels of months of voter photo I.D. court fights, deputy voter registrar court fights, redistricting court fights, plus a last minute purge of dead voters who are not dead, confusion and errors in the election process are virtually guaranteed, and we still have concerns about those machines.

Saturday
October 13, 2012
13
Being informed about these intimidation tactics and failure points before the first votes are cast allows you to defend vulnerable voters and protect the interests of candidates you support. You'll able to share important information with your network and identify potential issues anywhere and everywhere you see them.

The program will be held at the John & Judy Gay Library in McKinney, 6861 El Dorado Parkway, just east of Alma. It's centrally located in the county and offers plenty of room, so please encourage Democratic friends and neighbors to come with you. Join us for coffee and breakfast goodies at 10:45 am and the program will get started at 11:00 am. We'll wrap up by 1 pm and those who care to continue the discussion can adjourn to a nearby restaurant for lunch.

As always, we invite your input on topics, speakers, format and other options - and encourage you to get involved in growing our network. We'll have sign-up and comment sheets at the event, but if you aren't able to attend, please e-mail us at info@collindems.net, or call (469) 713-2031 to leave a voice message.


FOLLOW ON TWITTER



FRIEND ON FACEBOOK



FORWARD TO A FRIEND

Democratic Network Educational Forum

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VP Debate Watch

We invite you to get "fired up and ready to go" for the rest of the campaign Thursday evening, October 11th by attending a Debate Watch at Rugby House Pub, in north west Plano ~ 8604 Preston Rd., Suite 100, Plano, Tx 75024. (map)

Come watch the October 11th VP debate between Vice President Joe Biden and Congressman Paul Ryan with your Democratic friends and neighbors. The debate telecast starts a 8:00pm, but you are welcome to come early to order drinks and food and chat with your friends and neighbors.

This 90-minute debate, moderated by ABC News Chief Foreign Correspondent, Martha Raddatz, telecast from Centre College in Danville, Kentucky, will be broken up into nine 10-minute segments focused on Foreign and Domestic Policy.

The Texas Democratic Women of Collin County, Democratic Network, Democratic Blog News, Plano Drinking Liberally and McKinney Living Liberally are co-sponsors of this debate watch event at Rugby House Pub media room. This debate watch event is in lieu of the regular Plano Drinking Liberally meeting that would be on the 12th and the McKinney Living Liberally meeting that would be on the 11th.   Debate schedule posted below the more jump...

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Register To Vote

by Michael Handley

Today, October 9, 2012, is the deadline to be registered to vote in the 2012 Texas General Election.  Are you registered to vote? Even if you think you are registered you should double check your registration status RIGHT NOW, because your registration could have been suspended or completely purged.

To vote early, starting Monday, October 22, 2012, or on Election Day, November 6th, you must be registered to vote or have mailed your new (or change of address) voter registration form to the election office for the county in which you currently reside so that it is postmarked before 11:59pm, October 9, 2012.

I have worked every election as Early Voting and Election Day Election Clerk, and more recently Alternate Judge, for the last ten years.  In the last two hours of every November Election Day too many last minute voters, who may have waited in a line for up to an hour, check in to vote only find they are not registered. Waiting until 5:00pm on Election Day, Tuesday, November 6, 2012 to discover a problem with your registration status is too late - if you check your registration status NOW and find a problem, you can fix it.

My polling place always calls the county election office to ask them to search their records to determine why a person who thinks they are registered vote is not on the polling place list of registered voters. Sometimes the election office finds that a properly registered voter is not on the polling place list of voters due to a clerical error, in which case the person can vote a regular ballot.  More often, would-be voters not found in the polling place list of voters are not properly registered and their only option is to vote a provisional ballot, as provided under the federal Help America to Vote Act.

There are several typical reasons would-be voters find they are not registered. Top on the list of reasons is that people think they were automatically registered when they changed, renewed or applied for their Texas driver's license at the Department of Motor Vehicles office - but that DMV voter registration did not occur. 

As required by the federal National Voter Registration Act of 1993, better known as the ‘Motor Voter’ law, Texas DMV workers are suppose to ask everyone they process if they want to register to vote or to update their registration information. If the client replies yes, state employees ask eligibility questions and enter that information directly into their computers.

Software processes the registrant’s information — name, age, address, citizenship, etc. — and automatically prepares a voter registration application with all the registrant’s identifying information. The DMV employee then ask the registrant to review the application for correctness, and sign it using a pen. The voter registration application is then scanned, where the signature is electronically captured as an electronic image file. That image file is then combined with the voter’s other digitized information and electronically sent to election offices where the application is processed. If all the application information is verified, the registrant is added to the voter registration data base in the county where they reside and to the Texas Secretary of State's statewide TEAM voter registration data base. 
Other common reasons people may find they are not registered in this election include:
  • Sample Registration Card for Collin Co., TXIf you haven't voted in the last two federal elections, you may no longer be registered to vote.
  • If you did not receive a yellow 2012-13 Voter Registration Card (VRC), you may no longer be registered to vote.
  • If you moved, but you did not go to your county's election registration office to file a voter registration form for your current residence, you may no longer be registered to vote.  

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Friday, October 5, 2012

Social Media Debate Sentiment Favors Obama

The immediate consensus by early polls, the conventional press and even the blogosphere that Mitt Romney won Wednesday's presidential debate eroded significantly as social media fact-checkers weighed in, according to analysis of the conversation on Twitter, Facebook and blogs by the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism and NBC News.

On both Twitter and Facebook, the conversation was much more critical of Mitt Romney than it was of Barack Obama during the debate. And when the criticism of one candidate and praise of another are combined, the conversation on Twitter leaned Obama's way. On Facebook it was something of a draw.

Only in blogs, which tended to offer more of a post-debate summary of the event than a moment-to-moment reaction, did the sentiment resemble that of instant polls or press analysis, which have tended to see Romney as having the better of the debate.

For both candidates in social media, however, immediate praise of their performance in general was hard to come by.

Twitter

On Twitter, an examination of 5.9 million opinions posted from the beginning of the debate through the next morning finds more of the conversation leaned Obama's way (35%) than Romney's (22%). But those who favored Obama tweeted not so much to praise him as to criticize his opponent. Of the entire conversation, 9% praised the president and 26% was critical of Romney. Of those favoring Romney, 7% praised him and 15% criticized Obama.

Not every tweet about the debate was an evaluation of candidate performance. Another 17% of the conversation involved people offering jokes with no clear opinion about either contender. A smaller component of the conversation, 9%, involved people sharing information or news. And 16% of the conversation talked about other things, such as evaluating the moderator, Jim Lehrer, or people tweeting that they were watching the debate-or not watching.

If the conversation that did not evaluate the candidates is removed from the tally, the Twitter numbers would show 61% leaning Obama's way and 39%, Romney's.

Facebook

On Facebook, the results were more evenly split. An analysis of 262,008 assertions on public Facebook posts during the same period found that 40% of the discussion leaned toward Obama compared with 36% toward Romney. Joke-telling was marginal. Information-sharing made up 8% of the conversation, and 17% was not about the candidates.

Here, too, the conversation favoring Obama tilted more toward criticism of Romney (30%) rather than praise for Obama (10%). The conversation favoring Romney was more even, with 17% praising him vs. 19% criticizing Obama.

Blogs

The blogosphere was the one component of social media that more aligned with the sentiment found in instant polls and in press coverage. An analysis of 6,313 assertions in a broad sample of public blogs favored Romney by roughly 4 to 1. Fully 45% of that sentiment leaned Romney's way and 12% toward Obama. Here, almost all of the conversation for Obama was criticizing Romney. Of the conversation going Romney's way, more of it actually praised his performance (26%) than criticized the president's (18%).

One difference in the blog conversation, the analysis found, is that much of it came toward the end of the debate or later, and tended to involve more of a summary evaluation of the whole event rather than a reaction to a single exchange or moment.

Except for blogs, these findings about social media offer a contrast to what people generally saw in the immediate aftermath of the debate in polls or in mainstream media coverage.

A CNN poll of debate watchers taken immediately after the debate found that 67% of registered voters thought Romney won the debate vs. 25% for President Barack Obama. A CBS poll of undecided voters who watched found 46% for Romney and 22% for Obama.

A look at political analysis in mainstream media found something similar. "Romney takes fight to Obama," read the headline of the Washington Post lead story. The Denver Post was more direct: "Round 1: Romney."

Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism.


NBC News 

Even as Romney was being hailed as the victor in the minutes immediately after the debate on Wednesday, a small question was already being raised about "Facts" across all the social media channels.

By late Thursday afternoon, those questions had become prominent, as commenters cited analyses by partisan and nonpartisan fact-checkers. Particularly influential was a commentary Thursday morning by the liberal blog Think Progress:
Pundits from both sides of the aisle have lauded Mitt Romney's strong debate performance, praising his preparedness and ability to challenge President Obama's policies and accomplishments. But Romney only accomplished this goal by repeatedly misleading viewers. He spoke for 38 minutes of the 90 minute debate and told at least 27 myths.
Arguments like that planted the idea that Romney had "lied his way to victory."

By Friday morning, the counterargument that Obama had actually won on substance had taken root, with online sentiment now favoring the president.

The analysis suggests that Twitter and Facebook can be powerful disseminators of opinion once commenters have time to digest the news and marshal their arguments.

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Thursday, October 4, 2012

Mobile Digital Communication

The era of mobile digital communication has crossed a new threshold. Half of all U.S. adults now have a mobile connection to the web through either a smartphone or tablet, significantly more than a year ago, and this has major implications for how news will be consumed, according to a detailed new survey of news use on mobile devices by the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism (PEJ) in collaboration with The Economist Group.

At the center of the recent growth in mobile is the rapid embrace by Americans of the tablet computer. Nearly a quarter of U.S. adults, 22%, now own a tablet device-double the number from a year earlier. Another 3% of adults regularly use a tablet owned by someone else in their home. And nearly a quarter of those who don't have a tablet, 23%, plan to get one in the next six months. Even more U.S. adults (44%) have smartphones, according to the survey, up from 35% in May 2011.

News remains an important part of what people do on their mobile devices-64% of tablet owners and 62% of smartphone owners say they use the devices for news at least weekly, tying news statistically with other popular activities such email and playing games on tablets and behind only email on smartphones (not including talking on the phone). This means fully a third of all U.S. adults now get news on a mobile device at least once a week.

Mobile users, moreover, are not just checking headlines on their devices, although nearly all use the devices for the latest new updates. Many also are reading longer news stories - 73% of adults who consume news on their tablet read in-depth articles at least sometimes, including 19% who do so daily. Fully 61% of smartphone news consumers at least sometimes read longer stories, 11% regularly.

And for many people, mobile devices are adding how much news they consume. More than four in ten mobile news consumers say they are getting more news now and nearly a third say they are adding new sources.

Read the full report at Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism

More:

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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Just 7 Days To Voter Registration Deadline

by Michael Handley

The deadline to be registered to vote in the 2012 General Election is October 9, 2012. Are you registered to vote?  Even if you think you are registered you should double check your registration status, because your registration could have been suspended or completely purged.

  • Sample Registration Card for Collin Co., TXIf you haven't voted since the November 2008 election, you may no longer be registered to vote.
  • If you did not receive a yellow 2012-13 Voter Registration Card (VRC), you may no longer be registered to vote.
  • If you moved, but you did not go to your county's election registration office to file a voter registration form for your current residence, you may no longer be registered to vote. 
  • If you checked the voter registration box at the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles office when you changed, renewed or applied for your driver's license, but you did not sign a registration form and/or you never a receive a Voter Registration Card, you most likely are not registered to vote.
To vote early, starting Monday, October 22, 2012, or on Election Day, November 6th, you must be registered to vote or have mailed your new (or change of address) voter registration form to the election office for the county in which you currently reside so that it is postmarked before 11:59pm, October 9, 2012.

State and federal HAVA laws require the nation's voter rolls be regularly reviewed and cleaned to remove duplicates and eliminate voters who move or die. This clean up cycle occurs every three months in Texas.  Statewide in Texas, more than 1.5 million voter records could be suspended and eventually purged if people fail to vote or update their voter registration records for two consecutive federal elections.

One out of every 10 Texas voters' registration is currently suspended.  Among voters under 30, the figure is about one in five.  More than 300,000 valid voters were notified they could be removed from Texas rolls from November 2008 to November 2010 because they were mistaken for someone else who moved or died and failed to receive or respond to generic election office form letters.

Across Texas, identifying people who should (and shouldn't) be purged relies on outdated computer programs and faulty procedures. The result is that sometimes the wrong people are flagged and sent a voter status inquiry letter that many people discard as junk mail. If you ever received a status inquiry letter or post card from your county's election office, and you did not respond, your voter registration record likely has been purged.   

To check your Collin Co. registration status - click here. To check your registration status in any other Texas county - click here. If you find you are not registered to vote, you can find the Voter's Registration application by clicking here.

(More details available at Your 2012 Collin Co. Voter Registration Card ~ Are You Ready For Voting To Start In Just 34 Days? ~ NPR: Texans Bereaved Over 'Dead' Voter Purge ~ Ignore A Letter From The Elections Office And Get Purged From Voting.)

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We Invite You To Get Fired Up And Ready To Go

We invite you to get "fired up and ready to go" for the rest of the campaign Wednesday evening, October 3rd by attending a Debate Watch at Rugby House Pub, in north west Plano ~ 8604 Preston Rd., Suite 100, Plano, Tx 75024. (map)

The October 3rd debate between Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama is going to be an enormous event.   Some 200 million television viewers worldwide are expected to focus on the debate held at the University of Denver in Colorado.

The 90-minute October 3rd debate, moderated by Jim Lehrer, will be broken up into six 15-minute segments. Three of the segments will focus on the economy, with the remaining three segments focused on health care, governing and the role of government.

The Texas Democratic Women of Collin County, Democratic Network and Democratic Blog News have reserved the Rugby House Pub media room for debates on October 3rd, October 11th and October 22nd.  Watch for information about the October 16th debate watch location. Debate schedule posted below the more jump...

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Monday, October 1, 2012

Penny Phillips For 5th Court Of Appeals Video


Penny Phillips is an Air Force JAG Veteran and 20-year experienced attorney with a long history of dedicated public service.
Penny Phillips, Democratic candidate for 5th District Court of Appeals, Place 5, is out with a very well done campaign video on YouTube.

Penny served the state of Texas as an Assistant District Attorney in the 1990s. She also served the United States as a JAG officer in the Air Force. She current has her own law office in Plano.

Civil and criminal cases from district and county courts in Collin, Dallas, Kaufman, Rockwall and Grayson counties are appealed to the 5th District Court of Appeals, which includes one Chief Justice and twelve other Justice "places."  No Democrats currently sit on Fifth Court of Appeals.

In the 2012 General Election, five Democratic Candidates, including one other woman, Tonya Holt for Place 11, are running for place seats on this appellate court:
  • Tonya Holt for 5th District Court of Appeals Place 11
  • Penny Phillips for 5th District Court of Appeals Place 5
  • Larry Praeger for 5th District Court of Appeals Place 12
  • David Hanshen for 5th District Court of Appeals Place 9
  • Dan Wood for 5th District Court of Appeals Place 2
The Texas District Courts of Appeals are distributed in fourteen districts around the state of Texas. The Courts of Appeal have intermediate appellate jurisdiction in both civil and criminal cases appealed from district or county courts.

Like the Texas Supreme Court and Court of Criminal Appeals, Justices of the Texas Courts of Appeals are elected to six-year terms by general election. Graphical Guide to the Court System of Texas) (map)

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