We are all very concerned about the growing COVID-19 health threat to our local communities, all of Texas, the nation, and all the nations of the world. The Leagues of Women Voters across the country and in Texas are particularly concerned about protecting our citizens’ ability to participate in elections and maintaining our democratic way of life. Voters should not have to choose between voting or protecting their health.
Amid the coronavirus pandemic, vulnerable Americans are going to have to choose between casting a ballot and protecting their health. Vote-by-mail is a time-tested, reliable way for Americans to exercise their constitutional rights, and the right answer to respond to this crisis.
Tell your senators to support the Natural Disaster and Emergency Ballot Act (NDEBA) of 2020.
President Donald J. Trump, for the third year in a row, will address farm and ranch families at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 101st Annual Convention. The address is scheduled for January 19 in Austin, Texas, at the Austin Convention Center.
When Trump was in Austin last November, Indivisible Austin helped to organize a rally opposing his presence in our city.
This time around, we are choosing instead to focus on local organizing to vote Donald Trump and his enablers out of office at all levels of government. (We will support any individuals or groups who feel called to organize a protest of Trump’s visit.)
Trump and Farmers
Trump speaking to farmers does raise some interesting points. First, is his lie that smaller farms and farmers are “big beneficiaries” of cash payments intended to ease the effects of Trump’s tariff war with China.
According to a study by the Environmental Working Group, “the ‘richest of the rich’ — the top 1% — received 13% of the federal payments, or more than $177,000 each. The bottom 80%, on the other hand, got an average payment of $5,136.”
Additionally, according to the Washington Post, the past two years have been marked by a sharp rise in bankruptcies in the nation’s deepest farm country.
As we gear up for 2020, we’ll need all hands on deck. Sign up here to be notified of regular get-out-the-vote meetups and other volunteer opportunities. Feel free to indicate whether you have special skills or interests. Everyone is welcome!
Courtesy of Move Texas and the Texas Civil Rights Project
What is SB 9?
SB 9 seeks to make voting much more difficult, confusing, and scary for voters, all while creating more red-tape and bureaucracy for county election administrators. In 2018, a record number of Texans showed up to the polls to participate in our midterm elections. Instead of encouraging more democratic participation, SB 9 seeks to keep more and more Texans from voting in the future.
What does SB 9 do?
- Threatens voters with jail time and enormous fines: Voters could be punished for innocent mistakes, such as filling out their voter registration form wrong.
- Scares voters by weakening their right to a provisional ballot: Voters have a right to a provisional ballot when they sincerely believe they are eligible to vote, but this bill exposes them to possible jail time for doing so.
- Creates new red tape for those who need assistance while voting, in particular elderly voters, voters with disabilities, and non-English speaking voters: Those who drive voters to the polls and assist them while voting will have to fill out burdensome new forms just to help people vote.
- Injects partisanship into our elections: It allows partisan poll watchers to follow voters who need assistance into the privacy of the voting booth and watch them have their ballots marked.
- Expands dangerous new powers to law enforcement: It gives law enforcement complete legal immunity from prosecution for committing election-related crimes, allowing law enforcement to conduct undercover sting operations against community-based organizations.
- Exposes innocent people to arrest for vaguely defined conduct: Individuals who are assisting voters or exercising their right to free speech face new, confusing penalties for “impeding a walkway, sidewalk, parking lot, or roadway” up to 500 feet from a polling place, an area larger than a football field.
- Gives state officials more access to voters’ private information: AttorneyGeneralKenPaxton would be given direct access to the electronic voter registration database, which includes Social Security Numbers, Driver License Numbers, and other personal information.
What can I do to stop SB 9?
SB 9 would make voting harder and scarier for thousands of our fellow Texans who just want to have a voice in their democracy. We must reject SB 9, and focus instead on holding our leaders accountable in making it easier for more communities to participate in our democracy.
Today Indivisible Austin joined more than 30 groups in calling for the Texas Senate Democrats to block Secretary of State nominee David Whitley’s confirmation.
“We, the undersigned Texas organizations, call on you to affirmatively block the confirmation of David Whitley for Texas Secretary of State. In the two months since Governor Greg Abbott appointed Mr. Whitley to serve on December 17, 2018, it has become exceedingly clear that Mr. Whitley is unfit to serve in that office.”
Take action today and tell your State Senator that voter suppression has no place in Texas, and that they must vote NO on the confirmation of Secretary of State David Whitley.
In January the Texas Secretary of State — who is a nominee and NOT confirmed yet — issued an advisory that drove Ken Paxton, Greg Abbott and even Donald Trump into a froth of voter-fraud-conspiracy theorizing.
To recap: Texas officials flagged 95,000 voters for citizenship reviews. Now their entire case is falling apart. The vast majority of people on the list likely registered to vote after becoming naturalized citizens. But unless the SOS rescinds the advisory, every county in Texas is expected to commit resources to checking the citizenship status of people on the list. Some counties have already sent out letters, while others continue to check the rolls and clean up the mess the Secretary of State made.
In 2018 Texans voted in record numbers for a midterm election, and much of the growth in turnout came from Latino voters. The timing of this attempted voter purge is suspicious, and despite the massive data failures lawmakers are using the purge as the basis for enacting more vote-suppressing legislation this session.
In just his first few months in office, David Whitley has proven his incompetence and that he’s inadequate to the task of managing elections and voter rolls. He has lost the public’s trust and shown a chilling lack of respect for our citizens’ right to vote. We believe a Secretary of State should protect, defend and expand our access to the ballot, not create a climate of fear to suppress the vote.
As of now, three lawsuits regarding the attempted voter purge are pending against Whitley. As of Thursday, February 14, the Senate Nominations committee had yet to vote on his nomination, despite having held two hearings.
We join with our allies who have filed these lawsuits, and the many others who believe David Whitley must not be our Secretary of State.
Commentary: The GOP doesn’t really care about democracy — only power (by Jolt Texas’s Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez)
TCRP Responds to Secretary of State David Whitley’s Confirmation Hearing (Texas Civil Rights Project)
Where the hunt for voter fraud is worse than the crime itself (Washington Post)
In addition to calling, emails are an effective way to reach your elected representatives. If your reps don’t appear in these campaigns, you can usually find a contact form on their website. Another alternative is ResistBot, which allows you to contact your reps via text message, Twitter, or Facebook—it’s fun!
Polls close at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, November 6. If you’d like your event to be included, please email email@example.com with details.
Election Night Watch Party for Mike Siegel!
You’ve volunteered, knocked doors, made calls, written postcards, and – most importantly – voted! Now it’s time to celebrate all of our hard work as we watch the results roll in on Election Night!
Billy’s On Burnet
2105 Hancock Dr.
Julie Oliver and Indivisible TX25 East Watch Party
2027 Anchor Ln.
Legislate This! & The Show Up Election Night Watch Party
Legislate This! is a burlesque benefit that raises money for our local Planned Parenthood chapter. The Show Up is a group of Austin artists looking to engender more civic action. Please join both groups at the North Door for a night of patriotic celebration. Civic duty and civic booty collide on Election Night!
The North Door
502 Brushy St.
Beto for Texas Election Night Watch Party
Join the your neighbors and Wells Branch Pop-Up #1 volunteers for an election night watch party! Weather permitting we will set up a screen/projector in the backyard to watch the results come in. Please bring a lawn chair and/or blanket and snacks to share!
Wells Branch Pop-Up #1
3400 Ruby Red Drive
Texas Democrats Election Night Party
Join the Texas Democratic Party and Travis County Democratic Party with Lupe Valdez, Mike Collier, Justin Nelson, Joi Chevalier, Miguel Suazo and more!
604 Brazos St
If you’ve voted in Travis County, you are familiar with the voting machines that bear more resemblance to rotary telephones than to any technology currently in use. Those machines have been buggy in the past few elections, and this one is no different—except that there is massive national attention on the race at the top of the ticket between Beto O’Rourke and Ted Cruz.
Zenén Jaimes Pérez of the Texas Civil Right Project explained to GQ that “for nearly two decades, Texas has relied on Hart eSlate voting machines, which look sort of like giant PalmPilots and are manipulated using a selection wheel and an ENTER button. Manipulating both of these things at the same time, it seems, is what can lead to unintended and very unwanted results.”
Thanks in part to the Texas Civil Rights Project’s petition campaign, the Texas Secretary of State issued further guidance for how to ensure your vote is counted properly:
- When voting a straight-party ballot, wait at least 3-5 seconds for all choices to be rendered on the eSlate voting machines. Counties in which voters have longer ballots may require additional time to allow the screens to load fully.
- Once all the candidate choices for that particular party have been fully loaded, take your time to slowly review each choice in each race before advancing to the next screen.
- When advancing to the next screen, be sure the screen is fully loaded before scrolling through to the subsequent pages.
- Once you have reached the summary page, carefully review each choice listed to ensure the candidate selected is, in fact, the candidate for whom you wish to cast your vote.
- If you find that one or more of your choices are displayed incorrectly on the summary page, hit the ‘PREV’ button and choose the candidate for whom you wish to cast your vote.
- If any issues persist, ask for assistance from an poll worker at your polling location, and the poll worker will ensure that the machine is working properly and advise you on the proper steps to take to cast a ballot with only the candidates of your choosing.
What to do if you encounter a problem at the voting booth
Call 866-OUR-VOTE. The Texas Civil Right Project (TCRP) is fielding calls for our state. We know and trust the people handling those calls. When we first heard about the problem with the eSlate machines, we contacted our friends on the election protection team at TCRP, and will continue to follow up with them when we hear about voting challenges.
Texas Civil Rights Project, League of Women Voters-Texas, and Voto Latino are among the groups that make up the Texas Election Protection Coalition. When you call 866-OUR-VOTE your call isn’t going to a random call center somewhere outside of Texas. Although the number is a national hotline, calls for Texas will be answered by locally trained election protection volunteers who can assist with recommendations of what to do in the moment, and then help elevate problems to attorneys. TCRP has trained election protection volunteers across the state, and will continue trainings in the DFW and Houston areas this week.
The hotline is available in several languages. Please report voting challenges when you see them. Don’t ever leave the polling place feeling as though something didn’t go quite right with your ballot.
English | 866-OUR-VOTE | 866-687-8683
Spanish / English | 888-VE-Y-VOTA | 888-839-8682
Asian Languages / English | 888-API-VOTE | 888-274-8683
Arabic / English | 844-YALLA-US | 844-925-5287
What’s a march without a marching band?
Y'all, @indivisibleATX recruited a marching band to kick off early voting here in Texas with a festive march on Monday at 5:30 PM from the Capitol to the nearest polling location. Come! March! Vote! #BeATexasVoterhttps://t.co/ZhmbfDCK3w pic.twitter.com/QykqWlY9Q2
— Sara *Texans, vote early Oct 22-Nov 2* Clough (@radicalcraft) October 18, 2018
Come celebrate the first day of early voting—and show fellow voters how fun voting can be when you bring friends!
We’ve recruited an Indivisible Austin Marching Band for this, and it should be a grand time: we’ll kick things off with some tunes at the Capitol, before marching over to the nearest polling location at the Travis County Granger Building. We’ll convene near the Capitol south steps at 5:30 PM, rain or shine.
If you’re interested in joining the band, please reach out to Cindy Sadler (firstname.lastname@example.org) with your name, instrument, and email address.
Can you help take photos or video? Please message Indivisible Austin directly or via this event. We’re not done after Monday: throughout early voting, we’re looking for folks to lead and participate in local “marches” to the polls (maybe even with your own music?). Sign up to lead a parade, a marching band, mariachis, or just a group of fine folks doing their civic duty in the 2018 midterm elections!
- Event series for this two-week push (Facebook)
- March captain sign-up form, so we can send people to your mini-march, wherever and whenever you choose
And remember, even if you can’t join our Kickoff March or host your own, make a voting plan & #BeATexasVoter—and help everyone you know do the same.
By August 7: Tell the Census Bureau to remove its citizenship question from the 2020 census form
For the first time since 1950, the Census Bureau will ask all U.S. households about citizenship status, specifically, “Is this person a citizen of the United States?”
Because of the rapid growth in the Texas population in the last decade, Texas is poised to gain up to three new congressional representatives and millions of dollars for our state. However, the proposed citizenship question on the 2020 Census could prove to be a barrier between this new representation and funding if many Texans are concerned about filling out the Census because of the climate of fear caused by today’s politics.
The Census is not intended to count the number of U.S. citizens in each state. The Census is intended to count every person in the state regardless of their citizenship status.
Tell Texas Secretary of State Rolando Pablos to give high school students the vote
From the Texas Observer:
“Abysmal compliance with a decades-old state law is leaving at least 180,000 high school seniors off the current voter rolls, according to a new report.”
“The authors of the report…call on the secretary of state’s office to automatically send the forms to schools, rather than requiring administrators to request them; offer online trainings for voter registrars; and create a publicly available database showing which schools are registering students.”
Contact Secretary Pablos:
Phone: (512) 463-5555
Tell Cornyn and Cruz: No Kavanaugh hearings before midterms
Our dear old friends John Cornyn and Ted Cruz sit on the Judiciary Committee, deciding things like whether hearings can be held on a Supreme Court nominee whose millions of pages of records have not been released. The National Archives needs until October to compile the initial request from Senator Grassley—which still does not include records from Kavanaugh’s time in the White House. Yet, the GOP-controlled Senate appears to be pushing for September hearings.
Celeste Pewter has a script just for Judiciary Committee members:
I am asking [Cruz/Cornyn] to commit to a thorough vetting and questioning of Judge Kavanaugh’s qualifications for the Supreme Court.
We need to know where Judge Kavanaugh stands on key legal rulings, his conduct and ethics in office, and his employment track record. This includes a full recounting of his documents while serving as staff secretary for President Bush White and all documents available from the National Archives.
With that in mind, I’m calling on [Cruz/Cornyn] to ensure that the National Archive has until October to finish their full review of documents—as requested. We cannot and should not proceed without a full picture of Kavanaugh’s background.
How your voices are making a difference
- In Austin, local activists and lawmakers pressured ICE to drop a request to detain a woman jailed two weeks ago for assault while she was experiencing a mental heath crisis
- A record number of states are introducing reform measures to combat partisan gerrymandering
- A federal judge ruled that Donny must fully restore DACA
- Thursday, Aug. 9, 8:30-9:30 AM, 1105 N IH35 – Indivisible Rosedale Huddle brings us banner drops Thursdays this August. This week: make Ted sweat his constituents! (Facebook event)
- Saturday, Aug. 11, 11AM-11PM, Fiesta Gardens (festival) & Texas State Capitol > Congress Ave (parade) – Happy Pride, Austinites! Free parade portion runs 8-11 PM, starting at the Capitol, continuing down Congress onto 4th (Facebook event) More events at the Austin Pride website and the Chronicle’s Gay Place roundup.
- Save the Date: Monday, Aug. 27, 9AM-2PM, Robert B. Rowling Hall, 300 W Martin Luther King Jr Blvd – Texas Disability Issues Forum (TDIF) brings together members of the Texas disability community, major candidates for statewide office, and disability advocates (Event link at REV UP!)
Countdown: 91 Days to November 6
With only thirteen weeks between now and midterms, every hour of effort, every weekend of work counts. This week, add your drop to the growing #BlueWave:
Ask three people you know or meet if they are registered to vote at their current address. If they’re not sure, help them check using the Texas Secretary of State’s tool here. If they aren’t registered, help them change that by reaching out to us at email@example.com, and we’ll get them in touch with an Indivisible VDR. If they or you have any questions about voter registration, please use the same address!
Texas is overwhelmingly a non-voting state. Changing that reality starts by changing our shared culture—which also means talking (early and often!) about voting.
Congress Critter of the Week: Rep. Pete Sessions
Pete Sessions isn’t one of ours, but he is a representative from Texas, and he did hit peak Republican this week.
In attempting to explain his virtuous view of how to handle divorce proceedings, Pete managed to blame, for her own murder, a woman killed by her husband. He also blamed the divorce court judge—because they were unfair to the wealthy, presumably white, man.
His own words explain why he’s this weeks Critter better than we can:
“A big-time guy in Highland Park, who went and killed his wife, just gunned her down. And that was because the judge was unfair, and the woman was unfair. And she demanded something, and he was out. And it was frustration.”
Running against Pete Sessions in TX-32 is Colin Allred, who was just endorsed by President Obama.
Your Moment of Zen
It could’ve happened in Austin, but didn’t: 118 goats freely roamed a Boise, ID, neighborhood on Friday after escaping the enclosures of the local We Rent Goats business.
— Joe Parris (@KTVBJoe) August 3, 2018
Funding the Fight
They say an army marches on its belly. That’s true for an army of block walking canvassers, phone bankers, and letter writers too.
Be a part of the movement by making a contribution today! Your gift of $25 or $50 could provide the coffee and breakfast tacos that get us and America over the line.