Thursday, December 11, 2014

Charting 2014 Collin County Turnout

by Michael Handley

Over all, the national turnout was 36.3 percent; only the 1942 federal election had a lower participation rate at 33.9 percent. The reasons are likely voter apathy and negative perceptions of both political parties. Republicans ran a single-theme negative campaign against President Obama, and Democrats were unwilling to campaign on how much the national economy has improved or to point out significant achievements of Democratic policies over the six years of Obama's presidency.

Neither party gave voters an affirmative reason to show up at the polls so Millennials didn't bother to votesingle women were a little less pro-Democratic than usual, and the racial divide among voters remains stark. One number stands out above all others: 64 percent of older white men voted Republican. It's the "widest GOP advantage in this group in data since 1984," according to ABC News.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Historically Low 2014 Voter Turnout - Why?

General election voter turnout for the 2014 midterms was the lowest it's been in any election cycle since World War II, according to the United States Election Project. Just 36.4 percent of the voting-eligible population cast ballots on November 4, 2014.

The last time voter turnout was so low during a midterm cycle was in 1942, when only 33.9 percent of eligible voters cast ballots. Like many, I'm asking the question - why did only 36.4 percent of potential voters bother to vote in the 2014 midterm election? Obviously, those voters didn't have a good enough reason to take the trouble to vote.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Texas' Voter I.D. Law Found Discriminatory

After a two-week trial hearing conducted in September 2014, U.S. District Court Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos struck down Texas' voter photo I.D. law with a 147-page opinion issued on October 9, 2014.

Judge Ramos found the law had been adopted “with an unconstitutional discriminatory purpose,” created “an unconstitutional burden on the right to vote” and amounted to a poll tax.  Two days later, and less than two weeks before the start of early voting for the November 2014 gubernatorial election, Judge Ramos entered an injunction blocking the law.

Greg Abbott, the state attorney general for Texas and then Republican candidate for governor, immediately filed an emergency motion to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit asking that appellate court to stay Judge Ramos' final judgment pending appeal and asked for expedited consideration. The Fifth Circuit Court did stay Judge Ramos’s injunction saying, "We must consider this injunction in light of the Supreme Court’s hesitancy to allow such eleventh-hour judicial changes to election laws.

Plaintiffs in the District Court case immediately appealed the Fifth Circuit Court's decision with the Supreme Court. The brief filed with the Supreme Court said confusion at the polls was unlikely under Judge Ramos’s injunction. “Expanding the list of acceptable IDs will not disenfranchise any voter,” the brief said, “since the forms of ID acceptable under the old voter ID system include all forms of photo ID specified by” the 2011 law.

The Supreme Court upheld the appellate court's emergency stay against Judge Ramos’s injunction, allowing Texas to use its strict voter identification law in the November 2014 election.  Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg issued a six-page  dissent to the court’s order saying the court’s action “risks denying the right to vote to hundreds of thousands of eligible voters.” Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan joined the dissent.  Justice Ginsburg wrote, the law “may prevent more than 600,000 registered Texas voters (about 4.5 percent of all registered voters) from voting in person for lack of compliant identification. A sharply disproportionate percentage of those voters are African-American or Hispanic.” Justice Ginsburg added that, “racial discrimination in elections in Texas is no mere historical artifact.”

The "emergency stay" blocking Judge Ramos' action to strike down Texas' photo voter ID law will remain in place while the State of Texas appeals Ramos' ruling to the Fifth Circuit Court - and ultimately the Supreme Court - for a final determine.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Texas Voter I.D. Trial

Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2014 was the opening day of the U.S. District Court trial in Corpus Christi over whether Texas’ SB14 voter ID law is discriminatory.  The current voter discrimination suit was filed under section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos is the trial judge.

The law was already ruled discriminatory in August 2012 by another federal district court 3 judge panel under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. That 2012 ruling was overturned after the Supreme Court in June 2013 effectively nullified Section 5 anti-discriminatory protections.  Just hours later, Texas announced that it would immediately implement its ID law.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Public Education - A Fundamental Texas Value

by Michael Messer, President, Collin County Young Democrats

“Unless a people are educated and enlightened, it is idle to expect the continuance of civil liberty, or the capacity for self government.” These words are forever a part of the unique history of our state. In March of 1836, as Santa Anna's army was attacking the Alamo, five men gathered to write the Texas Declaration of Independence. Among their grievances, they included that Mexico had failed to create a system of public education, “although possessed of almost boundless resources.”

Monday, September 8, 2014

Your Vote Matters - Vote Democratic!

There are people who do not vote. They tell you “my vote doesn’t matter,” or “elected officials don’t listen to me,” or “my vote doesn’t count.” The reality is that VOTING MATTERS. The people elected to office have the ability to make opportunity available to all citizens or to make the American Dream available only to the privileged few.

VOTING MATTERS when you look at what each party stands for and the goals they have set out for governing. VOTING MATTERS if you care about education. VOTING MATTERS if you care about health care. VOTING MATTERS if you care about jobs. Take a look at what each party hopes to achieve, based on the official 2014 Party Platforms, and determine if VOTING MATTERS in your life. Ask yourself - if I vote, will it matter? If you care about any of the issues below, VOTING MATTERS!

VOTING MATTERS! Are you going to make your voice heard on Election Day?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Early Voting Locations 2014 Collin County

Collin County Early Voters may vote at any of the Early Vote Centers listed below.

Collin County Elections Early Voting Webpage

Election Day Locations 2014 Collin County

November 4, 2014 - General and Special Elections 
Election Day Vote Center Locations Hours
Collin County Registered Voters may vote at any of the Election Day Vote Centers.
All polling locations will be open for voting from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, November 4, 2014.
Collin County Elections Election Day Webpage

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Judge Ken Molberg For Fifth District Court of Appeals

Judge Ken Molberg For Fifth District Court of Appeals Judge Ken Molberg will be on the November 4, 2014, general election ballot as a candidate for Fifth District Court of Appeals, Place 5.

The 5th District Court of Appeals is one of our region's most important courts with jurisdiction over criminal, family and civil appeals cases for Dallas, Collin, Rockwall, Kaufman, Grayson and Hunt counties.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Denise Hamilton For Justice Of The Peace

Denise Hamilton is the Democratic Nominee for Collin County Justice of the Peace Court Precinct 3, Place 2.

Justice of the Peace courts have original jurisdiction over Class C misdemeanor criminal cases, and over minor civil matters, including small claims disputes, trespass, landlord and tenant disputes, and other real estate or property related disputes. Justices of the Peace can also perform marriages. Justice of the Peace courts also have jurisdiction over juvenile truancy cases.

Sameena Karmally for Texas State Representative

Lifelong Texan Sameena Karmally, candidate for State House District 89, grew up in the DFW area and is a proud graduate of Texas public schools, the University of Dallas, and the University of Texas School of Law.

Dallas Morning News endorses Sameena Karmally for Representative, Texas House District 89, over incumbent, Jodie Laubenberg.

"Not only has [Laubenberg] drawn an opponent, but a top-notch one. Democrat Sameena Karmally, a 38-year-old Allen attorney, gets this newspaper’s recommendation because her vision for Texas is more constructive and forward-looking than what Laubenberg has offered."

Monday, July 28, 2014

Leticia Van de Putte For Texas Lt. Governor

Leticia San Miguel Van de Putte grew up on the West Side of San Antonio, graduated with honors from high school and then attended pharmacy school at the University of Texas at Austin. After graduating, she opened her own small business, a community pharmacy that serves the same neighborhood she grew up in.

Leticia was elected to the Texas Legislature in 1990 and since then has been a champion of business, public education, and veterans. She also has worked to fight the heartbreaking and criminal practice of human trafficking.

Leticia led Texas’ fight for a safer state by creating the Texas Human Trafficking Prevention Task Force which has increased penalties for criminals that have committed repeat offenses against children and improved services for victims. She will continue to toughen penalties for those who prey on our most vulnerable and strengthen services for the victims seeking to heal.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Wendy Davis For Texas Governor

Wendy Davis got her start in public service on the Fort Worth City Council. Her work there and in the Texas Senate show she's a fighter working for all Texans, working to restore the Texas Promise of equal opportunity to education, a strong economy and a government that works for all people, not just some special interests.

Davis began working after school at 14 to help support her family, and by 19 was a young mother. To make a better life, she enrolled in community college.

Hard work, with the help of scholarships, loans and grants led her to Texas Christian University and later Harvard Law, where she graduated with honors.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Making Collin County A Texas Democratic Battleground

We're on a mission to make Collin County a Texas Democratic Battleground! First up is our Triple-Hit June coordinated block walk program the first three Saturday mornings in June: June 7th, 14th, and 21st.

Come out and join the Democratic Network of local Collin County Candidates, Precinct Chairs, Women Organizing Women Democrats, Heritage Ranch Democrats, Collin County Young Democrats, Wylie Democrats, and Deputy Voter Registrars for our Triple-Hit June block walks.
CLICK HERE To Sign Up For Our Triple-Hit June Program
We go to work for our local 2014 Democratic Women Candidates, building our Collin County Democratic base of voters, starting 9:00 a.m., June7th. We'll canvass neighborhoods with Sameena Karmally's campaign for Texas House of Representatives, District 89 and Denise Hamilton's Campaign for Collin County Justice of the Peace, Pct 3 Pl 2.

We'll register new voters, and introduce new county residents to our Democratic Women Candidates. Details on the walk locations for each Saturday will be communicated to those who sign up. Please come help make Collin County a Texas Democratic Battleground! And bring your friends, too.

During the fourth weekend in June, on June 26-27, Senate District 8 Delegates and Alternates from Collin County will go to the Texas Democratic Party State Convention at the Dallas Convention Center.

We want a good turnout of block walkers on June 7th, 14th, and 21st, so we can report to Democrats across Texas, at the State Convention, that we are working hard to make Collin County a Texas Democratic Battleground in Battle Year 2014!

We hope to see you every weekend in June!

Pol. Ad. Pd. for by Democratic Network

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

2014 Democratic Party SD / County Conventions

by Michael Handley

Since I am the Collin County Senatorial District 8 (SD8) Convention Chair, I created a convention information website that provides an A to Z collection of information about 2014 Democratic Party SD / County Convention procedure under the newly adopted Texas Democratic Party rules. While some of the convention information published on the website is tailored for the Collin County SD8 Convention, much of the information applies generally to Democratic Party  SD / County Convention procedures.  CLICK HERE to visit the SD8 Convention information website.

Many Democrats have questions about the TDP Rule change that moves Democratic Precinct Conventions from immediately after polling places close on Primary Election Day to the top of the SD / County Convention agenda, as a step in March 22nd Convention Day proceedings.  Another TDP Rule change removes the requirement for Democrats to vote in the primary in order to attend their SD / County Convention. Any Democrat who is registered to vote and has taken an oath of affiliation or has voted in the Democratic primary may become a convention delegate and volunteer to serve on a committee at their SD or County Convention.

These changes to Democratic Party Convention procedure may be confusing to Republican Party primary voters, because, for the first time, convention rules are no longer the same for both Republicans and Democrats. 

The Republican Party of Texas continues to convene Republican Precinct Conventions immediately after polling places close on Primary Election Day.  Republican Party and Democratic Party convention notification signs displayed in primary polling place will give different information about party convention when, where, and how.

Perhaps all the more confusing for Republican and Democratic Party primary voters in Collin County is the agreement made between the  Republican and Democratic Party County Chairs to depart from precinct based voting on Election Day.

Primary Election Day voting in Collin County, for the first time, will move from 130  traditional precinct-based primary polling locations to 63-65 "Voting Centers."  Only Collin County in the North Central Texas area will have Election Day "Voting Centers."  Most, but not all, Voting Center locations in Collin County will have both Republican and Democratic Party primary voting check-in desks.   Four election day polling locations will offer only Democratic Party primary voting.  (Collin County Election Day Voting Center locations ~ Early Voting Polling Locations)

Election Day Voting Centers work like Early Voting polling locations where registered voters living anywhere in Collin County may vote at any Voting Centers open around the county on Election Day.   Collin County Republicans seeking to attend their precinct convention immediately after polling places close on Primary Election Day should contact the Collin County GOP office for details on which precinct conventions will convene at various locations around the county.    

If you are a Democrat living in the Senate District 8 portion of Collin County, please plan to attend the Collin County Senatorial District 8 Convention on Saturday, March 22, 2014 at the Community Unitarian Universalist Church, 2875 E Parker Rd, Plano, TX 75074. (map)  (Details)

In past years, the Democratic Party of Collin County convened a joint Senatorial District 8 and Senatorial District 30 "County Convention," within District 8 territory.

This year, on Saturday, March 22nd, each Senatorial District (SD) within Collin County will convene their own SD Convention within their own District's territory.
NOTE: Under the newly revised Texas Democratic Party rules, Precinct Conventions are no longer held immediately after polling places close on Primary Election Day.

Individual Precinct Conventions have moved from Primary Election Day to the top of the SD Convention agenda as an organizing step in Convention Day proceedings.
Any Democrat within the Senatorial District who is registered to vote and has taken an oath of affiliation or has voted in the Democratic primary may become a convention delegate and volunteer to serve on a Convention Committee.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Color In Politics - Social Media, Yard and Road Signs

Have you ever wondered just how much of an impact color can have on the effectiveness of social media ads, and yard and road signs? Color choices on the clothing candidates wear to various campaign events can also set critical first impression feelings about the candidate in the minds of voters.

The reality is quite simple: color and its psychological impact matters in politics. It’s not a coincidence that Americans fall back on colors even to describe the leanings of political districts as either red or blue. But, first and foremost, there are two critical components for every piece of campaign literature, especially social media ads, and yard and road signs: the candidate name and the office sought. The purpose of campaign literature and ad design is to lock those two component pieces of information as clearly as possible in the minds of voters.

Color choices can help associate a psychological feeling about a candidates name in the minds of voters. That said, it’s best to give priority to choosing colors that contrast and are therefore more easily seen a momentary glance by passerby's: People scrolling through their social media feeds and  drivers passing by campaign yard or road sign. The more contrast the better, including more contrast from opponent ads and road signs, the landscape, and the color of homes in the neighborhood the more likely your yard sign will be noticed. Voters will scroll past social media ads and drive past yard and road signs in the blink of an eye, and often won’t take much time to read the actual wording on the ad or sign, but it’s singularly important for the candidate’s name register in the mind of passerby in that single blink of an eye.

What’s more, in most cases, you won’t even have much space for copy on social media ads or on yard and road signs! But with a strategic use of color, you can ensure that your social
media ads, yard and road signs, and other campaign literature not only capture your audience’s attention, but also convey a message about your campaign without needing a single word. That’s the psychological impact of color—for ads, yard and road  signs, and elsewhere in your political campaign.

Advertisers across all industries have long studied and utilized the potential impact of color on audiences, so it should be no surprise that politicians are following suit.

According to marketing and psychology research, each color evokes a different emotion in the audience’s mind, from feelings of excitement and power when they see the color red, to optimism when they see the color yellow. And because political elections often make appeals to emotional sensibilities, it’s time to consider color as an important choice in your election campaign, as well.

On a national level, this conscious emphasis on color has been happening for a while now. You only have to turn on a primary-election debate to see a plethora of blue suits seeking to evoke trustworthiness, with red accent colors woven in generously, and evoking power. Digital-media professor Kristen Palana discusses the importance of color in positioning candidates more in this article.

These trends translate directly to local political campaigns, as well. While local candidates may not think as much about their choice of tie as their national equivalents, you should absolutely consider color when designing attention-grabbing campaign materials, to subtly remind their audience of what they stand for.

Most likely, many of the candidates in your district will decide to go with a red, white, and blue color palette. Not only do those colors communicate patriotism, they also seek to evoke the same emotions that national candidates do: power and trust.

Of course, going with the exact same color palette as your competitors will do little to raise attention for your political campaign amongst the noise of countless other similar-looking yard signs. This leaves you with two choices:

Especially in conservative districts, you may simply not be able to afford going beyond the red, white, and blue spectrum. Put simply, patriotism matters in all elections, and the undoubted psychological connotations of red (passion and power) and blue (trustworthiness and competence) mean that most of your less color-savvy competitors will trust these colors to do the job.

But even if you stay within this spectrum, you have opportunities to stand out. Consider emphasizing an original arrangement of these colors, such as white on a blue or red background. Without changing the actual colors, you can still ensure that your signs will receive more attention than your competitors’ more traditional layouts.

For example, black is among one of the most attention-grabbing colors for yard signs, because they are typically brightly colored. A yard sign that utilizes black can make passersby look twice.

At the same time, few politicians actually use black, fearing negative connotations that don’t actually exist. In fact, black conveys authority and is among the favorite colors of both males and females, making it a good and original choice for your campaign, when used in moderation. No one wants to see an all-black sign, but it can be used to great effect when paired with other colors.

Orange is another option you might want to pursue as a color choice. Like black, it is not widely-used among politicians, yet it conveys optimism, clarity, and warmth—perfect for a candidate who is not yet personally known among local constituents.

Orange works best as a background for yard signs; using it as text means running the risk of blending in with the bright colors of the outdoors and decreasing visibility. And beware: you do not want to use orange before and during Halloween. Otherwise, you risk being subconsciously sorted away as a seasonal candidate who will matter little once the spooky season is over.

Here are what colors convey psychologically in marketing and political graphics and copy:
  • Black conveys power and authority. It's also easy to see from the road so it's a good choice in any district.
  • White is a fine background color, but it's associations with concepts like purity and sterility aren't especially meaningful to voters.
  • Red means power, think "power tie," and also has strong connections with love. As such, if you aren't going to drown in a sea of other red, white, and blue signs, red is a good choice.
  • Blue is a cooling and calming color. Hopefully, voters aren't that angry with you that you need this effect.
  • Green is a symbol of the natural world. Candidates who want to connect themselves with environmental issues are smart to choose this color.
  • Yellow is a bright and cheery color that when paired with a dark and contrasting color, works well in most districts.
  • Purple conveys wisdom but also royalty. Grassroots campaigns beware.
  • Brown, like green, is an earthen color that makes people think about the environment.
  • Orange conveys excitement, warmth, and outside of psychology, it's an attention getting color that works well on many signs.
Beyond color choice, here are a few best practice considerations for yard and road sign design:
  • Campaign yard and road sign copy: The fewer the words the better. Candidate name and office sought are the only pieces of information necessary. Using the fewest words possible makes the candidate name and office sought easier to read. While pedestrians may take the time to read a sign that incorporates a candidate’s website, logo, or other information it’s nearly impossible for a driver to do so.
  • Colors and cost of yard and road signs: Each color added to yard and road signs increases the per piece cost of signs. One color candidate name of office copy printed on a white sign stock costs the least to buy. One good way to stand out from your opponent’s signs is to simply have more signs posted in more locations than your opponent. Keeping your per piece sign cost low allows post more signs on more locations.
  • Branding: Unless you can incorporate the campaign logo or web address cleanly within and without detracting from the candidate name or office don’t add this information.
  • Font on campaign yard and road signs: The bigger the better. If you judiciously chose the words on the yard sign, the candidate name and office sought can be printed large and with a bold font. These font principles make lawn signs easy for voters driving by to see.
  • Border on campaign yard and road signs: Borders on campaign signs are nearly universal, but using a border around the font is less so. Using a border around yard sign copy is great for two reasons: it will help the words to pop from the yard sign and it may reduce costs as many printers will charge more if there is a bleed between two colors on yard signs.
  • Shape of campaign yard and road signs: The less traditional the better. Using a unique sign shape, however, is hard to find unless you are buying corrugated plastic, or Coroplast, yard signs. If you decide that Coroplast is the best type of sign for your campaign, then experiment with different shapes to stand out from other signs and get noticed.
  • Size of campaign yard and road signs: The bigger the better. The bigger the yard sign the easier it is to read. Also, a sign that is much bigger than an ordinary political yard sign will stand out from the myriad of other lawn signs that are traditional sizes.
  • Material of campaign yard and road signs: Yard signs comes in corrugated plastic, paperboard, or plastic poly bag. There’s a lot too choosing the right kind of yard signs, but some basic pointers are to use corrugated plastic if you would like a unique shape, paperboard is the traditional choice, and poly bag is durable.
  • Frame for campaign yard and road signs: Corrugated plastic must use an H frame design, poly bag lawn signs use an I frame, and paperboard or cardboard signs can use either an I frame or wooden stake frame. Frame sizes vary to fit the campaign lawn sign.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

When To Hold Senatorial District Verses County Conventions.

by Michael Handley

The party convention system in Texas was created to do several things: elect party officers at all levels, set party message and platform, and develop campaign volunteers and activists.  Historically, Precinct Conventions convened in each election precinct immediately after precinct polling places closed on Primary Election Day. A main purpose of those Precinct Conventions was to elect delegates who would advance to their Senatorial District (SD) or County Convention.
Under the newly revised Texas Democratic Party rules, that Precinct Convention step is moved to the top of the SD or County Convention agenda.  Senatorial District and County Conventions will convene across Texas on Saturday, March 22, 2014.
Under party rules revised by the State Democratic Executive Committee (SDEC) on December 14, 2013, any Democrat within each County or Senatorial District who is registered to vote and has taken an oath of affiliation or has voted in the Democratic primary may attend their SD or County Convention. Attendees may use the convention registration page, newly provided on the Statewide Texas Democratic Party website, to register for their County or SD Convention, or they may simply walk in on convention day, Saturday, March 22, 2014. From County and SD Conventions, a subset of those delegates will be elected as Delegates and Alternates to the June 26 – 28th State Convention at the Dallas Convention Center. 

Voter Registration Card 2014-15

by Michael Handley

Every registered Texas voter should have received their new 2014-15 orange Voter Registration Card (VRC) in the postal mail during the first part of January 2014.
If you have not already received a new VRC, you are likely NOT registered to vote. You should immediately check your registration status and take action to properly register, if you find you are not registered to vote in the county where you reside.  You must be registered or have mailed voter registration application by February 3rd to be eligible to vote in the March 4, 2014 primary election.

To check your Collin Co. registration status - click here. To check your registration status in another Texas county - click here. If you find you are not registered to vote, you can find the Voter's Registration application for Collin Co. by clicking here or any county by clicking here.  For specific information about voting in Texas, click here to find the Secretary of State’s pamphlet on Texas Voting.

Most women may notice something new on their Texas VRC this year.  Voters' former names were added to the 2014 voter registration cards because the Texas Election Code (sections 15.001 and 13.002 of the Texas Election Code) says they should have been there for the last twenty years.  Many women are concerned this change has something to do with the new voter I.D. law and that their name won't match their photo id I.D. In fact, this this has nothing to do with the new voter I.D. law.  (Texas Secretary of State Election Advisory No. 2013-08)

Check how your name appears in the white mailing address box in the lower right quadrant of your new orange 2014-15 voter registration card. This is the name that appears on the official voter roll - and that will be the name listed on polling place poll books.