Waco Tribune-Herald: Texas Two-Step needs reform

The popular Texas two-step is usually danced to country music in 4/4 time.

Texas Democrats have their own version of the Texas two-step that is unpopular and undemocratic.

This version of the two-step needs fixin’ before the next big dance is called in 2012.

Unfortunately, the Texas Democrats failed to make any reforms to their dysfunctional primary process when they gathered at their state convention earlier this month.

It had been so long since the outcome of a Texas Democratic primary had any impact on the outcome of a presidential race that the flaws with the party’s two-step primary process went unnoticed.

The early state primary competition has generally settled on a nominee before Texas Democrats had an opportunity to cast ballots for their favorite candidates.

This year, however, contest between Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama was still neck and neck when Texans turned out to the polls for the March 4 primaries.

Unlike Republican voters, or Democratic primary voters in other states, Texas Democrats were required to cast ballots for the candidate of their choice when the polls were open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and then turn around and convene in precinct conventions, or caucuses, later that evening if they wanted to take full advantage of their opportunity to support their candidate.

This process, which actually is a lot more complicated than it sounds, generated a great deal of confusion and hard feelings on primary night. It also resulted in Clinton winning the popular vote and Obama picking up more Texas delegates once the final tally was determined long after the primary election.

Texas Democrats who voted for their favorite candidate during the day but could not return later that evening to attend their precinct conventions ran the risk of seeing their vote diluted through the extra step of the caucus system.

The purpose behind the caucus system was to increase party participation among Democrats. This year it increased turmoil and feelings of being disenfranchised.

Democratic leaders need to pick one system or the other — just not both.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Waco Tribue-Herald Editorial

San Antonio Express News: Democrats should reform process before 2012 voting

June 15, 2008 by  
Filed under Blog, Editorials

Striving to unify the party for the November election, Texas Democrats delayed taking action to repair their malodorous presidential nominating process.

At last week’s state convention in Austin, the Express-News reported, Democratic leaders deferred action on changing the so-called Texas Two-Step, which is a hybrid process that includes primary voting and a caucus system.

The confusing and troublesome process led to presumed Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama snaring a slight advanatge in Texas delegates despite the fact that Hillary Clinton won the March 4 primary vote.

The situation led to bad feelings among Clinton supporters, and frankly doesn’t seem democratic. The problem was not with either candidate, but with the Texas party’s weird process.

Democratic officials have said the caucus system fosters more activism and party participation.

But it also makes it more difficult for working people and others who couldn’t attend a caucus to have their voice heard without being diluted by the process.

Frankly, few Texans were even familiar with the bifurcated system before the close contest between Obama and Clinton put a spotlight on the clumsy nominating method this year.

The caucuses may generate participation in the party, but they also leave thousands of voters feeling disenfranchised.

Now, Texas Democrats will wait at least until 2010 before addressing the mess.

The delay won’t be a problem if party leaders tackle the issue in between presidential elections.

But if they don’t adopt changes, the Texas Two-Step may trip Democrats again in 2012, serving more to divide the party than increase participation.

Link to original article on San Antonio Express News

Delegates table proposal to change primary-caucus system

From the Statesman.

It looked like there would be a vote on the convention floor on a proposal to change the Democratic Party’s two-step primary and caucus system for allocating delegates in a presidential election.

Scott Cobb, an Austin delegate who initiated the proposal, collected enough signatures — 30 percent of the delegates — to force a floor vote on the matter.

Before that could actually happen, though, Dallas state Sen. Royce West moved to table the proposal. West chairs a task force appointed by the state party to study the state’s “primacaucus” approach and report recommendations to the party after hearings around the state.

“We plan on making certain nothing is off the table,” West told delegates.

By a roll-call vote, delegates agreed to table Cobb’s proposal. Seventy-nine percent of the delegates voted to table, 21 percent voted against that.

Party officials had said before the convention they planned to wait to act on the primary-caucus system until they had gathered more information from delegates and held public hearings across the state on the issue.

Cobb’s proposal called for allocating the state’s pledged delegates by the results of the primary vote, though the caucus would continue to elect delegates to the local conventions.

Cobb said before the table turn that regardless of the results in the convention, the successful petition effort showed strong support for a change.