The Texas Democratic primary is a pretty strange hybrid of general voting and caucusing — and it’s not even that simple. But Texas Democrats — normally drowned in either red-statedom or late-primary irrelevancy — should take note that not only has the close Clinton/Obama race put them in a decisive position, but the quirks of Texas’ primary offer a singular opportunity to Make Your Vote Count. The short story is you get to vote twice… if you know how.
I do not generally affiliate myself with the Democratic party (or any party), but as an ardent Texan Obama supporter, I am thrilled that I might make a difference tomorrow. So for all of you intending to vote in the Democratic party primary in Texas tomorrow, I’ve collected some information on how to make the most of tomorrow:
- Texas does not register voters by party affiliation. This means that as long as you are registered to vote, you can vote in the Democratic (or Republican) primary tomorrow. The act of voting in the primary affiliates you with that party for the rest of the year (and for the precinct conventions notably).
- Texas has a two part method for assigning its 168 pledged delegates (a Texas two-step if you will, ahem). 126 will be chosen in the primary election, assigned proportionally by precinct, as opposed to the state-wide proportion as in most states. The remaining 42 delegates will be chosen in conventions that will be held on election day in each voting district, and again assigned proportionally per precinct based on those who choose to attend and vote at these precinct conventions. (For more information on how the precinct dynamics change the expected results, read this excellent article.)
- Anybody who voted in the Democratic primary election may vote in their precinct convention, to be held at 7:00pm election day, March 4th. You only need to bring proof that you voted (either on election day, or in early voting) to your precinct convention to participate.
- To be clear, the precinct conventions are a huge extra opportunity for you to sway more delegates in favor of your candidate. It’s like voting, but amplified. Do it and bring your friends!
To summarize, here’s what you do tomorrow:
- Step 1 – Vote in the primary election. To find your polling location, enter your address here. Yes, it’s Obama’s site, but honestly it’s the best statewide polling location finder I’ve found. Every vote counts here, as small changes in vote count can shift single delegates within the individual districts.
- Step 2 – Caucus! Show up at your precinct convention location (also available at that Obama link above), which is probably the same as your voting location, with proof you voted in the Democratic primary and commit your support for your chosen candidate. You may also want to familiarize yourself with the format for the convention minutes, which should give you an idea of what to expect. The precinct conventions are extra important, as you will be part of a small number of people with the ability to directly influence delegates.
I’m looking forward to taking part in this whole process tomorrow — I hope it will be taking part in history in the making.