Know your rights; make your vote count

U.S. Rep Eddie Bernice Johnson

U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson

By Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson

Special Contributor

 

Unlike any other time in American history, it is important for all eligible citizens to exercise their right to vote on Nov. 4.

Recently, there has been significant dialogue regarding which party will control the House and the Senate in Washington. These conversations highlight a very real point: This election is critical to the future of minorities and middle-class Americans.

Voter engagement is crucial.

In minority communities, there is a common misconception that voter turnout is only important during presidential elections. But adhering to this school of thought could result in more than a decade of financial and political oppression.

It is not enough to see massive voter turnout in 2016; the same level of voter turnout must occur on Nov. 4.

Since the election of President Barack Obama, America’s first African-American president, the Republican Party has become the “Obstructionist” Party. During the current Congress, the GOP has done everything in its power to ensure the ineffective operation of our federal government. For example, in 2013 the Republican Party caused a government shutdown.

Now, with the help of the U.S.  Supreme Court, the Obstructionist Party has shifted its efforts to implementing new voter ID laws and unconstitutional “poll taxes” that block the votes of approximately 600,000 eligible voters in Texas.

The new Texas voter ID law lists state driver’s licenses, voter identification certificates, state ID cards, concealed gun permits, military IDs, citizenship certificates and passports as the only forms of permissible voter identification.

Student ID cards, issued by the state’s colleges and universities, and other forms of government identification, including a voter registration card, are not acceptable forms of ID under the law.

The ability to utilize concealed gun licenses as a form of acceptable voter identification highlights the reality that these new laws were created to favor a specific demographic, while disenfranchising others. Why would a state deliberately violate the civil rights of millions of its residents?

Research shows that if African-Americans and Latinos successfully turned out to vote, many so-called red states would become blue.

A Congress controlled by Democrats would guarantee a minimum wage of $10.10 an hour. This would occur during the first 100 days of a new Congress.

Additionally, increased access to early childhood education would become a reality, and the Equal Pay Act, which ensures that women earn the same wages as their male counterparts, would go into effect.

But none of these vital changes will occur without proper voter education and participation.

To be prepared for the Nov. 4 election, I encourage all voters to prepare themselves by visiting www.sos.state.tx.us to confirm their registration status. Voters can also visit www.votetexasgov to learn their correct polling places, and know their rights.

Do not allow yourself to be denied your right to vote based on technicalities. Educate yourself and vote on Nov. 4 to strengthen our democracy.

U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson represents Texas’ 30th congressional district in the United States House of Representatives. She is a longtime ally of the LGBT community.

—  Tammye Nash

Elections 2014: Get ready, early voting begins today

VOTEEarly voting begins today, Monday, Oct. 20, and runs through Friday, Oct. 31. There’s a whole lot on the ballot locally and statewide from contested races at the top of the ballot all the way down to local bond packages. Watch for coverage here at Instant Tea until Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 4.

But before I get to coverage, learn what you need below to vote per the Texas Secretary of State’s VoteTexas.gov, a clearinghouse of information on voting.

The deadline to register to vote in Texas has expired. But if you are registered, you must present one of seven valid forms of identification.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s  Saturday, Oct. 18 upheld the state’s voter ID law. This means Texas voters will be required to present one of seven types of photo identification to be eligible to vote.

The seven forms of identification permitted are:

  • Texas driver license—unexpired or expired no longer than 60 days at the time of voting
  • Texas personal identification card—unexpired or expired no longer than 60 days at the time of voting
  • Texas concealed handgun license—unexpired or expired no longer than 60 days at the time of voting
  • U.S. passport book or card—unexpired or expired no longer than 60 days at the time of voting
  • U.S. Military identification with photo—unexpired or expired no longer than 60 days at the time of voting
  • U.S. Citizenship Certificate or Certificate of Naturalization with photo
  • Election Identification Certificate (E.I.C.)

According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, if you do not have one of the first six forms of identification only then may you apply for the E.I.C. at no charge. (Getting to a D.P.S. location and standing in line is a whole different story, however.)

Learn more about the getting an E.I.C. here.

During the early voting period, you may vote at any designated voting site in your county.

On Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 4. you must vote at your precinct’s designated voting site.

Need more information?

Collin County 1-800-687-8546 co.collin.tx.us/elections

Dallas County 214-819-6300 dallascountyvotes.org

Denton County 940-349-3200 votedenton.com

Tarrant County 817-831-8683 tarrantcounty.com/eVote

—  James Russell

Voter ID law ruling overturned, photo ID required for 2014 elections

voteThe 5th Circuit of Appeals yesterday, Oct. 14, overturned a Friday, Oct. 11 ruling by U.S. District Judge Nelva Ramos declaring the Texas voter ID law unconstitutional.

The appeals court ruling stated that Ramos’ decision “substantially disturbs the election process of the State of Texas just nine days before early voting begins. Thus, the value of preserving the status quo here is much higher than in most other contexts.”

Ramos, who was appointed by President Obama to the court, in her ruling called the law a “poll tax” and “discriminatory toward African-Americans and Hispanics.” Her ruling called for the 2014 elections to proceed without the strict voter ID law, which requires voters present one of seven forms of photo identification.

Opponents argued the law was intended to squash the voting rights of minorities and college students, many of whom traditionally vote Democratic.

Plaintiffs, including Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and Campaign Legal Center plan to appeal to U.S. Supreme court to overturn the ruling, reports the Texas Tribune.

Texas Secretary of State Nandita Berry, the state’s top elections administrator, said the court’s stay ”means photo ID requirements will continue to be in effect for the November 4 Election, just as they have been for the last three statewide elections. Voters should prepare, as many already have, to show one of seven approved forms of photo ID if they plan to vote in person.”

There is still time to get one of the seven qualifying photo identification cards before early voting begins on Monday, Oct. 20. You may obtain a photo ID any time before the Nov. 4 election. More information is available here.

The deadline to register to vote — not obtain a photo ID — was Oct. 6.

—  James Russell

Davis Campaign to Hold “Out for Wendy” Day of Action Across Texas

WDNCODThe Wendy Davis campaign will celebrate National Coming Out Day tomorrow, Saturday, Oct. 11, with “Out for Wendy” canvassing events across the state.

Joining LGBT Texans will be Houston Mayor Annise Parker, Amber Davis, daughter of Wendy Davis, and other campaign surrogates.

Click here to RSVP.

Austin

WHAT: Out for Wendy Day of Action

WHO: Amber Davis, daughter of Wendy Davis

WHEN: 9:00 AM

WHERE: Austin Coordinated Campaign Office

1910 E. MLK Boulevard

Austin, Texas 78702

Dallas

WHAT: Out for Wendy Day of Action

WHO: Zac Petkanas, Communications Director for Wendy Davis for Governor Campaign

WHEN: 10:00 AM

WHERE: Oak Lawn Library

4100 Cedar Springs Road

Dallas, Texas 75219

Edinburg

WHAT: Out for Wendy Day of Action

WHEN: 9:00 AM

WHERE: Starbucks

2720 W. University Drive

Edinburg, Texas 78539

Fort Worth

WHAT: Out for Wendy Day of Action

WHO: Libby Willis (Candidate for State Senate – District 10)

WHEN: 10:00 AM

WHERE: Davis Campaign Field Office

La Gran Plaza – Suite 1711

4200 S. Freeway

Fort Worth, Texas 76115

Houston

WHAT: Out for Wendy Day of Action

WHO: Houston Mayor Annise Parker

WHEN: 2:00 PM

WHERE: Matthiesen Law Firm

511 Lovett Boulevard

Houston, Texas 77004

Laredo

WHAT: Out for Wendy Day of Action

WHEN: 9:00 AM

WHERE: Davis Campaign Field Office

1701 Jacaman Road, Suite 1

Laredo, Texas 78041

San Antonio

WHAT: Out for Wendy Day of Action

WHEN: 12:30 PM

WHERE: Sparky’s Pub

1416 N. Main Avenue

San Antonio, Texas 78212

—  James Russell

Last day to register to vote for November 4 election

vote-buttonToday is the last day to register to vote in the November 4 general election.

Per VoteTexas.org:

Register in person at your county Voter Registrar’s office. (In most Texas counties, the Tax Assessor-Collector is also the Voter Registrar. In some counties, the County Clerk or Elections Administrator registers voters.)

Or you can register by mail by obtaining an application from your county Voter Registrar’s office or the Secretary of State’s office. You can also pick up applications at libraries, government offices, or high schools.

As I reported in this week’s edition, a recent poll showed a single digit difference between gubernatorial nominees Wendy Davis and Greg Abbott. Every vote counts.

See you at the polls.

—  James Russell

Election 2014: Second (and last) gubernatorial debate is tonight

DavisAbbottSplit_jpg_800x1000_q100Tonight is the last night voters can see the two candidates for Texas governor spar before the November 4 election.

State sen. Wendy Davis of Fort Worth and Attorney General Greg Abbott will debate live at KERA’s studios in Dallas It will be broadcast tonight, Tuesday, Sept. 30 at 8 p.m. on television, radio and online.

KERA is co-producing the debate with NBC 5, KXAS-TV, Telemundo 39 and The Dallas Morning News.

The full list of channels hosting the debate is here. Both the Davis and Abbott campaigns are hosting their own watch parties. pre-debate phone banking and watch parties. You can check out the Davis events here.

Stonewall Democrats of Dallas and the Dallas County Democratic Party are hosting a watch party at the Angelika Theater, 5321 E Mockingbird Ln #230, 7-9:30 p.m.

Tarrant County Stonewall Democrats are also hosting a watch party at Tommy’s Hamburgers, 2455 Forest Park Blvd., at 7:30 p.m.

I can’t find a lot of specific listings for Abbott watch parties, but I confirmed with the Dallas County Republican Party about at least one party hosted by the Abbott campaign. Details are here.

It will also be live streamed. A Spanish-language translation of the debate will be streamed online at Telemundo39.com.

Viewers are encouraged to also submit questions via Twitter @keranews using #texasdebates. I’ll probably also be having fun on Twitter as well. You can follow me @james4texas. Feel free to join in. (I also tweet a lot about traffic, the arts and cultural life if #texasdebates aren’t of interest to you.)

—  James Russell

Victory Fund candidates fare well in Tuesday’s primaries

Mike_Michaud

Rep. Mike Michaud

According to the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, eight of nine endorsed candidates running in yesterday’s primaries won their election.

In Maine, five LGBT candidates will face challengers in November. Among them is U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, who is running for governor. Michaud has served in Congress since 2003 but only came out as gay in 2013. Another is Ryan Fecteau, 22. If elected to the state House of Representatives, Fecteau will become the youngest LGBT state lawmaker in the U.S.

Other wins include Kyle Thorson who secured the Democratic nomination for a North Dakota House seat and Andrew Martin who won the Democratic nomination for Nevada state controller.

—  David Taffet

BREAKING: Philip Kingston, Rick Callahan win Dallas City Council seats

IMG_6232

Dallas City Councilman-elect Philip Kingston, right, hugs outgoing Councilwoman Angela Hunt at his watch party Saturday at the Pour House. Kingston will replace Hunt, who endorsed him. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

Philip Kingston narrowly defeated fellow attorney Bobby Abtahi on Saturday in a runoff between two LGBT allies for the District 14 Dallas City Council seat.

With 39 of 41 precincts reporting, Kingston has 2,339 votes, or 55 percent, to Abtahi’s 1,946 votes, or 45 percent.

Kingston will replace Councilwoman Angela Hunt, a staunch LGBT supporter who was term limited and endorsed Kingston in the race. District 14 is among the most heavily LGBT in the city and covers parts of Oak Lawn, East Dallas and downtown.

Kingston and his supporters gathered at the Pour House on Skillman. In his victory speech, Kingston thanked his all-volunteer staff and supporters for running a clean and positive race.

“Our message was issues-driven and relentlessly positive,” Kingston told Dallas Voice. “That resonated with voters in District 14.”

Abtahi and several dozen supporters waited for results at The Mason Bar in Uptown. He called Kingston after it was clear he’d lost before thanking his supporters for their hard work and faith in him throughout a long campaign.

“We started this campaign at 1 percent. That was our name ID. That’s how much of the vote we were going to get, 1 percent,” Abtahi said. “And we came back and we showed people that you could have someone from the outside, you could have someone who wasn’t endorsed by the incumbent make a run for it and we did a great job. And I appreciate all your support and now it’s time to relax.”

Kingston and Abtahi expressed strong support for the LGBT community during the campaign, with both saying they’d back a council resolution endorsing marriage equality and statewide LGBT job protections.

Kingston was criticized for his mostly Republican primary voting history and for financial contributions to conservative causes, including a PAC now affiliated with Sen. Ted Cruz and the campaign of Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples. However, Kingston also gave money to the campaign to defeat Texas’ marriage amendment in 2005.

Abtahi, who has a lesbian sister, was endorsed by Stonewall Democrats, while Kingston had the backing of the nonpartisan Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance.

In the other City Council runoff, Rick Callahan defeated Jesse Diaz in the newly created District 5, which covers Pleasant Grove in southeast Dallas. Diaz was endorsed by Stonewall Democrats. In response to a Dallas Voice questionnaire, Callahan said he supports civil unions but not marriage equality, but his campaign manager later said he would support the council marriage equality resolution.

Abtahi.Bobby

Bobby Abtahi shakes hands with gay former Councilman Craig Holcomb at his watch party at the Mason Bar on Guillot Street in State-Thomas. (Anna Waugh/Dallas Voice)

—  John Wright

Election day in Houston: Future of City Council at stake

It’s election day in Houston. Four of the sixteen seats on the Houston City council are up for grabs in the run-off.

Two of the races are at-large seats, so every citizen of Houston gets to vote on this races:

  • In At-large position 2 former State Representative Kristi Thibaut faces Andrew C. Burks Jr, Pastor of Bailey Chapel Christian Methodist Episcopal Church.
  • In At-large position 5 incumbent council member Jolanda Jones faces Jack Christie, former State Board of Education member .

Two of the races are for district seats, so only people who live in those districts get to vote on these races:

  • In District A incumbent council member Brenda Stardig faces republican activist Helena Brown.
  • In District B local restauranteur and education advocate Jerry Davis faces Alvin Byrd, current staffer for council member Jarvis Johnson.

Early voting has been paltry with only 15,690 people voting in Harris Couny  (compared with the 33,101 who early voted in the Place 5 general election). Low voter turnout means that every vote counts more than ever.  With a fourth of the City Council in the balance the results of today’s election will affect every LGBT issue in city government for the next two years. It’s crucial that the queer vote turn out.

To find your voting location visit harrisvotes.org. Many voting precincts have been consolidated due to the expected low turnout, so you may not be voting at your regular voting location. Polls close at 7 pm sharp!

—  admin

Early voting in runoff election off to slow start

For those who missed it, there is an election happening in Houston right now. Four City Council races wound up in run-offs after the November 8 municipal elections and Houstonians have until December 10 to decide the fate of these crucial races.  So far fewer than 2,000 people have voted. Without a “big ticket” item like the mayor’s race at the top of the ballot turnout in the runoff is expected to be very low. The upshot of which is that every ballot cast carries more weight than ever.

Two of the races are at-large seats, so every citizen of Houston gets to vote on this races:

  • In At-large position 2 former State Representative Kristi Thibaut faces Andrew C. Burks Jr. Pastor of Bailey Chapel Christian Methodist Episcopal Church.
  • In At-large position 5 incumbent council member Jolanda Jones faces Jack Christie, former State Board of Education member .

Two of the races are for district seats, so only people who live in those districts get to vote on these races:

  • In District A incumbent council member Brenda Stardig faces republican activist Helena Brown.
  • In District B local restauranteur and education advocate Jerry Davis faces Alvin Byrd, current staffer for council member Jarvis Johnson.

Early voting continues through December 6th, election day is November 8. Voters may cast their ballot at any early voting location. Visit harrisvotes.org to find your election day polling location (it may be different than your November polling place) and to view a sample ballot.

—  admin