Election Spotlight: The Williamson County Sheriff’s race

The race for Williamson County Sheriff should be on everyone’s radar—not just Wilco residents’.

The incumbent, Robert Chody, was recently indicted for felony evidence tampering in the case of Javier Ambler. As you may recall, Wilco cops chased Ambler, who is Black, into Travis County and killed him with multiple tasers. During the arrest Ambler repeatedly stated “I can’t breathe” and “please save me” before dying.

Ambler’s death was recorded by a Live PD reality television crew. Chody solicited Live PD to film in Williamson County and then, according to USA Today, hired troubled officers to play to the camera. Last week, the Statesman released an in-depth study of the rate of police violence in Williamson County since Chody enlisted Live PD.  They found that “violent encounters between Williamson County sheriff’s deputies and civilians nearly doubled from 2017, the year before Live PD joined the agency, to 2019, the height of the department’s television fame.”

The Statesman has endorsed Chody’s opponent, Mike Gleason, writing:

“No community can call itself safe when its policing serves egos and image over the public good. We strongly urge voters to oust Chody and elect challenger Mike Gleason as Williamson County sheriff.”

Mike Gleason

Gleason, a Democrat, is an experienced law enforcement officer. He retired as chief deputy after 24 years in the Williamson County Sheriff’s office—in the same year Chody took office. The Statesman endorsement goes on to say:

“Gleason plans to revamp the chain of command, weeding out unfit supervisors, establishing standards for promotions and ensuring everyone has the right qualifications for their posts. He will work with the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement to overhaul the sheriff’s training academy, a facility that was run so unprofessionally under Chody that the police chiefs of Pflugerville, Manor and Buda swore off sending their new recruits there.”

Grab your Wilco friends and family and make sure they are voting for Mike Gleason. Support his campaign at gleason4wilcosheriff.com and make a donation here.

More more information on Javier Ambler, visit justiceforjavierambler.com.

Five ways to flip Texas and defeat Trump

“Joe Biden can end the election on election night. All it takes is an investment in Texas.”

Beto O’Rourke, The Washington Post

Are you ready to end this national nightmare—and to end it on November 3, not in a drawn-out court battle? Texas’s 38 electoral votes are up for grabs. If the election swings our way, it’s over for Donald Trump.

How do we win Texas? By winning up and down the ballot. How do we do that? Here are five ways.

1. Fire John Cornyn

MJ Hegar is out-raising and out-organizing Sen. John Cornyn in Texas. Cornyn lacks the name recognition of Ted Cruz. And let’s face it: Of the people who know John Cornyn, literally no one likes John Cornyn. Let’s FIRE one of Trump’s chief enablers—the guy who made a Corona beer joke about coronavirus, the guy who shows pretend-concern while voting to cage children, the guy who dog-whistles his racist supporters.

Support MJ Hegar:

2. Fire Rep. Michael McCaul and flip TX10

In 2018, civil rights lawyer Mike Siegel narrowly lost to incumbent Michael McCaul—in a district gerrymandered for Republicans. Now, in 2020, Siegel is running again to finish the job. He’s been organizing for two years and the race is well within reach. Rep. McCaul, meanwhile, was recently caught on video refusing to wear a mask on an airplane. Fire him.

Support Mike Siegel:

3. Fire Rep. Chip Roy and flip TX21

Elected in 2018 to replace retiring Rep. Lamar Smith, Chip Roy—a protege of Ted Cruz and indicted Attorney General Ken Paxton—has done nothing for his district but demagogue and shill for insurance companies. He gives Louie Gohmert a run for his money in the “most embarrassing Texas politician” contest. Former state senator and gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis is running against Chip Roy. Davis achieved national recognition for her 11-hour filibuster of a sweeping Texas abortion bill and has worked tirelessly on behalf of Texans ever since. While Rep. Roy flouts mask mandates and whimpers about “herd immunity,” the Wendy Davis campaign has a 27-page guide to help TX21 residents stay safe and healthy.

Support Wendy Davis:

4. Fire Rep. Roger Williams and flip TX25

Rep. Roger Williams championed the Paycheck Protection Program, and then exploited it to take $1-2 million in loans for his car dealerships. He is one of the wealthiest members of Congress, yet took taxpayer money to sell used cars. Julie Oliver—who beat all expectations in her run against Williams in 2018—has been criscrossing every county of this massive, and massively gerrymandered, district, listening to the needs of constituents. To help those affected by the pandemic, her campaign offers mutual aid, assistance with Economic Injury Disaster Loans for small businesses and picking up necessities such as prescriptions for people in TX25.

Support Julie Oliver:

5. Flip the Texas House

Flip the Texas House

We need only nine seats to flip the Texas House. Why is this of national importance? The decennial United States census happens in 2020. This count is what informs how legislative districts are drawn all over the country. This only happens once a decade, so it is how gerrymandered districts happen, and endure. For Democrats in Texas to have a shot at fair legislative maps, we must gain control of one chamber of the state legislature. The State House is our best shot.

Bonus: Tweet for Texas!

Twitter icon

If you’re unable to—or finished with!—the actions above, here’s something else you can do if you’re on Twitter. We have a tool that makes it easy to tweet on behalf of candidates in flippable districts. It may seem like a small thing, but if enough people do it, we can make a difference.

The news is terrible. Every day brings a new violation of norms and deterioration of Democracy. It’s easy to feel despondent and powerless. But if we all channel that negative energy into positive action—we can and will WIN.

Write Your Reps! Tell Greg Abbott: Stop Suppressing Voters

Writing Tips

  • Make it personal: Tell Greg Abbott how COVID-19 has impacted you. Express your concerns about voting during a pandemic.
  • Tell Greg Abbott that prohibiting counties from providing multiple ballot drop-offs is voter suppression.
  • Commend Greg Abbott for extending the Early Voting period and insist that those dates remain in place

The COVID-19 pandemic threatens the lives of Texas voters. Texans who are eligible to vote by absentee ballot can reduce their risk of exposure to the virus by mailing or hand-delivering their ballots. to make it easier and safer to vote, several of the largest Texas counties set up secure ballot drop-off locations in multiple locations. This is especially important because of ongoing U.S. Postal Service delays.

On October 1, Gov. Greg Abbott issued an order allowing Texas counties no more than one drop-off location for voters casting absentee ballots. This reduced the number of drop-off locations in Harris County (pop. 2.4 million) from 12 to one, and the number in Travis County (pop. 1.2 million) from four to one.

Harris and Travis county are both Democratic strongholds.

In July, Gov. Abbott extended the Early Voting period by six days—which will alleviate long lines and exposure to the coronavirus. However, Republicans in the state legislature are placing intense pressure on Abbott—including a lawsuit—to reverse his decision. Rumors (unfounded at this point) are circulating that Abbott may change his mind. Abbott must be pressured to do the right thing: keep the extended Early Voting period and allow multiple ballot drop-off locations.

Especially in light of Donald Trump contracting COVID-19, Gov. Abbott must act in the interests of public health, not far-right extremists.

Write Your Reps! Save the U.S. Postal Service

Updated August 23, 2020. This letter will go to your US senators.

The House passed the bipartisan Delivering for America Act, which—if passed in the Senate and signed into law—would give $25 billion to USPS, restore overtime to USPS workers, prohibit removal of mail sorting machines & mailboxes, and require all election mail be treated as first class mail.

Now it is time for the Senate to act.

As a reminder, the postal; service is enshrined in the Constitution. USPS provide jobs to hundreds of thousands of Americans, including a disproportionate number of veterans and minority groups.

Timely delivery of mail-in ballots will make elections safer during the pandemic. Also, consider the number of Americans receiving prescription drugs via USPS; missed deliveries could be a death sentence for them.

The USPS is an invaluable system that we cannot take for granted. The Senate must convene to #SaveTheUSPS.

Write Your Reps! Tell Greg Abbott: Keep Texas voting during the coronavirus pandemic

Statement by League of Women Voters of Texas President Grace Chimene on Election Changes Needed Needed to Deal with COVID-19:

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.

Write your reps! Tell your senators: Protect our vote during the coronavirus pandemic

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.

Statement from Indivisible Austin on Trump’s visit to the Farm Bureau’s Annual Convention in Austin, Texas

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.

Trump lies about payouts to small farms

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.

Get Involved

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!

Sign up to volunteer for upcoming meetups and blockwalks





Anti-Voter bill SB 9 turns the clock back on Democracy

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.

Indivisible Austin Joins Call to Block David Whitley’s Nomination

Say NO to David Whitley, say NO to voter suppression

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.”

Read the full letter with signatories

Ask your State Senator to block Whitley’s nomination