Democrats Mull “Two Step” Changes

July 8, 2008 by  
Filed under Blog, Media Coverage

KLBJ
A Democratic Party committee holds the first of several meetings looking for options to fix the “Texas Two Step” hybrid primary/caucus system. There were many problems back in March when Democrats went to precinct caucuses after voting earlier in the day. Most of those problems were caused by the huge number of people that participated. Democratic Party officials say that number topped one million.

Party member Sue Berkel thinks the caucuses should be eliminated, or at the very least should not be used to split up presidential delegates. “I believe that the Texas caucus system is an unnecessary barrier to full participation,” she said.

State Party Chairman Boyd Ritchie says there is no question that things could have been done better, but that doesn’t mean the caucus system should be eliminated. “If we had just a winner-take-all primary like the Republicans did, no one has got a chance to participate other than big campaigns with big money,” he said. He also calls the caucuses a “party building tool.”

The chairman of this committee that will try to reach consensus is Dallas State Senator Royce West. He says the bottom line is to come up with recommendations that keep people interested and involved in the Democratic Party and actually increase the numbers of people involved. “You’ll hear testimony all over the board, and it’s up to the 21 people on this committee to come up with some recommendations,” he said.

last modified: 7/7/2008 2:42:09 PM

Democrats take closer look at Texas Two-Step

July 8, 2008 by  
Filed under Blog, Media Coverage

News 8
7/7/2008
By: Kendra Mendez

Democrats take closer look at Texas Two-Step

State Rep. Royce West, D-Dallas, said the caucus system was overwhelming.
The 2008 Texas Primary was unlike any state Democrats had ever seen.

We all remember the caucus madness back in March. Few can forget the lines, chaos and confusion.

Now the Texas Democratic Party looks to reevaluate the Texas Two-Step process.

State Rep. Royce West, D-Dallas, said the caucus system was overwhelming.

“Needless to say, our caucus process was overwhelmed, to say the least, and that was what has precipitated this review,” he said.

Many are working to eliminate the craziness of the caucus system.

More than 2 million Democrats participated in the state primary, and a little more than a million voters made it out to caucus.

The Texas Two-Step dates back to 1988, and some think it’s time for change.

“There are persons that think we should scrap it all together, there are persons who think we need to modify it and then there are people who think we should keep it as it is,” West said.

Monday, the first of several meetings was planned to reevaluate the process with a committee set up by the Texas Democratic Party and chaired by West.

Graduate student Amy Esdorn missed out on caucusing because of class.

“I was basically not allowed to have a vote that counted as much as other people’s votes who could take the time on a Tuesday evening and go out,” she said.

Esdorn’s part of a group that wants to see the second step of the Texas Two-Step get the boot.

Johnny Limon wants to see Texas leave two-stepping to the dance halls.
Monique Maley believes caucusing is unfair for single mothers, students and the elderly and other people who cannot make it out.

“I think that it’s great that we had the opportunity for our voices to count, but if our voices are going to count then every voice needs to count equally,” she said.

Johnny Limon wants to see Texas leave two stepping to the dance halls.

“I think it’s very discriminatory, especially to the elderly because I have a 94-year-old mother who I had to take with me to go vote,” he said.

Boyd Richie, Chairman of the Texas Democratic Party, said the process creates opportunity for participation but agrees it is important to review.

Maley agreed.

“We want to make sure we don’t disenfranchise any voters, and so I think it’s really great that this commission has decided to sit down and look at this,” Maley said.

Democrats have some time to figure it out, but taking a closer look is one step the whole party can agree on.

‘Texas 2 Step’ Democratic Primary Process Debated

July 8, 2008 by  
Filed under Blog, Media Coverage

CBS 42

With the 2008 Presidential campaign in full swing, some Democrats in Texas are already looking ahead to the 2012 election.

State Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas, opened hearings in Southeast Austin Monday morning to examine the party’s so called Texas Two Step process. It includes both primary and caucus votes to pick Presidential candidates.

Some have criticized the setup saying it’s confusing and even unfair.

“I feel my vote didn’t count as much,” laments Amy Esdorn, one of many Democrats who wasn’t able to attend the caucuses after the primary polls closed in March. Those voters only got to cast one ballot when others essentially voted twice.

Even those who did wait in long lines to caucus complain the process was chaotic, even confrontational. In some places, police were called in. And then there was the arithmetic to divvy up delegates. In some cases, even the party’s self described “EZ math” worksheet just added up to more complaints that the caucus was too complicated.

Issues with the two step process come to light during the March primary between Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. Hillary Clinton. Clinton won the popular vote but Obama won the county conventions. Clinton then challenged the caucus process.

“There are persons who think we need to scrap it altogether, there are persons who think we need to modify it, and there are people who think we need to keep it just the way it is,” West said.

State Democratic Party Chairman Boyd Richie explained at the hearing, “No one and I don’t think anyone here in this room could have expected the record turnout that we saw.”

The hearing could inspire changes in party rules. But those alterations have to be approved by state party and state legislature. So any changes wouldn’t be put in place until the next Presidential primary in 2012.

In the meantime, there will be several more hearings around the state, including citizen input.

Democratic advisory group reviews ‘Texas Two-Step’ voting system

July 8, 2008 by  
Filed under Blog, Media Coverage

Monday, July 7, 2008

Associated Press

AUSTIN — The complicated system of allotting presidential delegates swamped the Texas Democratic Party during record voter turnout in the spring and needs to be improved, party Chairman Boyd Richie told an advisory committee today.

Texas Democrats distribute the state’s 193 delegates to the national convention using a hybrid system that includes the primary election and a caucus, with distribution favoring state Senate districts that had high voter turnout in the most recent presidential and gubernatorial elections.

But precinct convention workers accustomed to just a trickle of caucus-goers were overwhelmed by this year’s record turnout of more than a million voters in a historic race between Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton for the party’s presidential nomination.

“No one … could have expected the record-breaking turnout that we saw and while this turnout was good for Texas it was clear the current system that governs the Texas Democratic Party is not capable of handling such large numbers of people,” Richie said. “I do believe that updates and changes need to be made.”

Richie was addressing the Advisory Committee on the Texas Democratic Party Convention/Caucus System, which will convene several more hearings around the state to study the so-called “Texas Two-Step” and possibly make recommendations for improvement.

Clinton won the March 4 Texas primary, getting 65 delegates to Obama’s 61. Obama fared better at each stage of the state’s caucuses, which started at the precinct level immediately after polls closed.

The precinct caucuses quickly devolved into chaos in many parts of the state.

The process has been mired in complaints and allegations of mischief around the state, with caucus administrators overwhelmed and lacking experience to handle the record turnout.

Latino voting advocates filed a lawsuit alleging minority voting rights were harmed by the delegate distribution formula. The suit was thrown out.

Clinton’s campaign argued that Obama supporters had illegally obtained caucus packets in several precincts throughout the state and had locked Clinton voters out of several caucuses.

At today’s committee meeting, Richie suggested the state’s 8,000 precincts hold their caucuses on a Saturday rather than the night of the primary, to ease some of the load.

Before the hearing, one group of Democrats proposed changing the rules so that national delegates from Texas are awarded to presidential candidates based only on the results of the popular vote in the primary, rather than using a caucus.

“The current system is unfair because it dilutes the votes of people who vote in the primary but do not return for the caucuses,” said Scott Cobb, a Democratic activist who argued that caucuses create barriers for people who may have to work nights or have to be home to care for young children.

Taking on the Texas Two-Step

July 7, 2008 by  
Filed under Blog, Media Coverage, News & Commentary

AUSTIN, Texas (KXAN) – Some Democrats are fighting their own party in Texas in order to change the process in which they vote during the primary.

The state’s primary caucus — comprised of both a primary and a caucus on the same day — is both unique and meant to get local members of the Democratic Party to participate more fully in the nomination process. Protestors to the process, however, call it unfair to those who can’t spend an entire day voting in a primary. A committee, made up of key Democratic lawmakers, held their first meeting today to analyze the two-step process.

Protestors gathered outside the meeting, calling the democratic voting process unjust.

“We want the primary voters to have the full value of their vote and not have it cut in two,” said voter Wendle Scott.

Scott is an Obama supporter. He voted in both on primary day and in the evening caucus in his hometown of Gonzales. Even though that benefited Scott’s preferred nominee, it robbed voters like Amy Esdorn. Esdorn voted in the primary, but because she had a college class that night, was unable to participate in the caucus.

“I feel like I was disenfranchised in a way because the voters who vote in the caucus, their vote is weighted differently than those who vote in the primary,” said Esdorn.

Party Chairman Boyd Richie told the primary committee that undoubtedly the system has flaws; namely, its inability to handle record turnouts, like the one Texas had this year. But he said the two-step process is integral in keeping grassroots groups alive.

“We can’t just have everybody sit at home on their couch and push a button and presto, everything is taken care of,” said Richie. “There has to be some effort put out in order to participate in the process.”

Participation is what the party wants to get now, as Obama and Clinton supporters band together in an effort to leave Texas’s two-stepping to the dance floor.

“We’re trying to force them, we’re going to have to force them to do it because obviously they’re not going to do it voluntarily,” said Scott.

Some of the recommendations Richie suggested include having more staff on hand to organize the caucus, switching from a paper method to an electronic method and moving the caucus to the Saturday after Tuesday’s primary.

The committee will make its own recommendations after holding public hearings throughout the state. The Texas Democratic party will then make a decision then go to the national Democratic party for consideration. Any changes would not be enacted until 2012.

TDP Survey Results from State Convention on Primacaucus

July 7, 2008 by  
Filed under Blog, TDP State Convention

It looks like if a discussion and a vote had been allowed on the Resolution at the State Convention on Ending the Two-Step Resolution, it could very well have passed, based on the results of the survey that people were asked to fill out at the convention. At the least, it would have been close.

TDP Caucus Survey ResultsUpload a Document to Scribd
Read this document on Scribd: TDP Caucus Survey Results

Democrats Question How Presidential Nominee is Chosen in Texas

July 7, 2008 by  
Filed under Blog, Media Coverage

Fox 7 News
July 7, 2998

AUSTIN — Some Texas Democrats are tired of dancing the “Texas Two Step.” This hybrid process of choosing a presidential nominee involves having both a primary and a caucus. Party leaders have gathered for the first of several meetings on the topic and are hearing from Democrats that say the system cannot deal with the large number of voters that overwhelmed polls in March.

Texas Democrats Should Allocate All Pledged Delegates Based on the Results of the Primary Vote

July 5, 2008 by  
Filed under Solution

The best way to ensure that all voters are able to fully support their preferred candidate for president is to allocate all pledged delegates based on the results of the vote in the primary. People who have problems attending the caucuses, but who are just as passionate about their candidate as anyone else, can cast their ballots in the primary knowing that Texas Democratic Party elections are based on the principle of “One Person, One Vote” and their one vote will count equally as everyone else’s.

Our proposal would not end the precinct conventions. In 2012, there would still be a three tier convention system (precinct, senatorial/county and a state convention) through which the 126 pledged senatorial district delegates will be selected based on the primary results in each senatorial district just as they were in 2008. People would still attend precinct conventions and vote on who will be delegates to the senatorial or county conventions. They would also still bring resolutions and conduct party business.

The only difference would be that instead of the current 42 “at large” delegates and 25 “pledged party and elected official” delegates that in 2008 were allocated based on the sign-in at the state convention, those two type of delegates would be allocated in 2012 based on the statewide popular vote in the primary.

A system with all the delegates allocated based on the results of the primary would be fairer, more inclusive, more democratic and would more accurately reflect the voice of the people.

Who’s minding the kids while Mom and Dad are Caucusing Late Into the Night?

July 5, 2008 by  
Filed under Parents

Parents who have young children have problems attending caucuses. In 2008, election day was the day before Texas schoolchildren had to take the TAKS test, so many parents had to get their kids home to get a good night’s sleep. Lower-income parents were even more disadvantages because in order to attend the caucuses for several hours, they might have needed to pay a babysitter. Anyone who has children knows how difficult it can be sometimes to arrange for a babysitter.

Of course, these problems with child care responsibilities preventing voters from attending the caucuses are even more pronounced for single moms and single dads who have primary responsibility for child care.

Democrats Who Oppose the “Texas Two Step” to Hold Press Conference Monday, July 7

July 5, 2008 by  
Filed under Blog, Press Releases

Media Advisory
For immediate release: July 3, 2008

Contact: Scott Cobb 512-xxx-xxxx (Use Contact Form on Website)
Sue Berkel 512-xxx-xxxx

Democrats Who Oppose the “Texas Two Step” to Hold Press Conference Monday, July 7

Group Seeks Change in Caucus Process Used by Texas Democrats to Allocate Delegates

A group of Democrats who are seeking an end to the “Texas Two Step” process of allocating delegates among the candidates for president will hold a press conference Monday, July 7, at 9:15 AM outside on the grounds of the ACC Eastview Campus (near the parking lot), 3401 Webberville Road in Austin.

The press conference is being held immediately before the first meeting of a committee set up by the Texas Democratic Party and chaired by Senator Royce West that, according to TDP Chair Boyd Richie, “has been charged with studying the current convention/caucus system. Furthermore, based on the testimony taken at these meetings, the committee will then consider this feedback and possibly make recommendations for changes.”

The group wants the Texas Democratic Party to change its rules for future elections, so that all national Texas pledged delegates are awarded to presidential candidates based only on the results of the popular vote in the Primary. In 2008, pledged delegates were chosen through a complicated “Texas Two-Step” process that allocated 126 delegates based on the primary vote and 67 through the caucus system.

At the Texas Democratic State Convention in June, the group collected signatures from more than 30 percent of the number of delegates to the convention on a resolution calling for an end to the “Texas Two-Step”. When the resolution was brought to the floor of the convention, it was tabled without discussion on a motion by State Senator Royce West on the grounds that his committee will be looking into the caucus system.

Speakers at the press conference will include both voters who supported Hillary Clinton and voters who supported Barack Obama in the primary, but who all agree that the current system of allocating any pledged national delegates based on caucus results should be scrapped.

“The current system is unfair because it dilutes the votes of people who vote in the primary but do not return for the caucuses. Caucuses create too many barriers for voters. Many people are unable to spend 2-3 hours on election night casting another vote at the caucus to fully support their candidate. Many voters work evenings, have young children to care for, are elderly and do not get out at night or are frail, have health issues, or are in the military and stationed abroad. Others may just be unaware that to fully support their chosen candidate they have to “vote twice”. Only about one-third of the people who voted in the Democratic Primary on March 4 returned for the caucuses. 2,874,986 people voted in the primary, so about 1.9 million people had their votes diluted by an unfair process. That is a lot of people. A system that allocates all pledged delegates based on the results of the primary would be more fair, democratic and inclusive than the party’s current system”, said Scott Cobb, a long-time Texas Democrat.

“We believe ALL voters should count equally”, said Amy Esdorn, who voted for Obama in the primary, but was unable to attend the caucus because she is a graduate student who had class the evening of March 4.

The meeting of West’s committee will be at the Austin Community College Health Science Building 9000 in the Multi Purpose Hall room 8500 in Austin, Texas on July 7, 2008 at 10:00am. The campus is located at 3401 Webberville Rd, Austin, Texas 78702.

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