Media Advisory: Democrats Seeking to Reform Party Rules Will Push Resolutions at Precinct Conventions March 2 to End the “Texas Two-Step”

March 2, 2010 by  
Filed under Blog, News & Commentary, Press Releases

Media Advisory

For immediate release: March 2, 2010

From: ChangetheCaucus.org

Contact: Scott Cobb 512-552-4743

Democrats Seeking to Reform Party Rules Will Push Resolutions at Precinct Conventions March 2 to End the “Texas Two-Step”

Group Supporters to Present Resolutions at Precinct Conventions Proposing an End to the “Texas Two Step” Used by Texas Democrats to Allocate Delegates in Presidential Election Years

A group of Texas Democrats who are seeking an end to the “Texas Two Step” process of allocating delegates among candidates for the Democratic nomination for president will present resolutions at precinct conventions tonight urging the Texas Democratic Party to end the so-called “Texas Two-Step” delegate selection process. Resolutions are submitted at precinct conventions, then on March 20 resolutions passed by precincts are considered at senatorial district or county conventions, and finally the issue will be taken up at the TDP State Convention in Corpus Christi June 25-26.

The group, whose website is ChangeTheCaucus.org, wants the Texas Democratic Party to change its rules, so that in the future 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.

Scott Cobb, a longtime Texas Democrat, said, “the current system is unfair because it violates the principles of ‘one person, one vote’ and ‘equal opportunity to vote’. All eligible voters have an opportunity to vote in the primary by mail or during the early voting period, but many people are unable to spend hours on election night attending caucuses to fully support their candidate. People who cannot attend precinct conventions to caucus include members of the U.S. armed forces serving in Afghanistan, Iraq or elsewhere around the world; many people over the age of 65; many parents with young children; many people with disabilities; people who are ill on the day of the precinct convention; anyone traveling away from home on election day, and anyone who must be at work or school at the time of the convention, especially if they are employed in low-wage, jobs without the flexibility to reschedule or unable to afford the missed wages. Other people may just be unaware that to fully support their chosen candidate they have to come back for the caucuses”.

At the Texas Democratic Party State Convention in June 2008, 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 the grounds that TDP Chair Boyd Richie had appointed State Senator Royce West to chair a committee that would be looking into the caucus system and that would hold hearings to take testimony. The committee, according to Richie’s letter to West, “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.” Senator West’s Committee held 10 meetings in various cities across Texas in the Fall of 2008, but it has still not issued a report.

Critics of the Texas Two-Step include former Texas Supreme Court Justice Bob Gammage, who wrote a letter to the State Democratic Executive Committee saying he wants the TDP to “abolish the Texas Two-Step process and restore the democratic integrity of our ballot and our delegate selection process”. Gammage’s letter said, “Texas Democrats have taken a giant step back from the fight for ballot equality by adopting the so-called “Texas Two-Step” system, which enables undemocratic caucuses to determine a third of the delegates who attend our presidential nominating conventions, regardless of the democratically expressed will of the voters who participated in the election itself. This system ignores the very purpose of all the preceding ballot expansion and democratization efforts, by giving an unfair weighted numerical advantage to a small percentage of voters who find it convenient to show up on a single night, after the polls have closed, for a limited number of hours to determine fully one-third of the delegates who will move to the next step of the presidential delegate selection process”.

Five days before his death in November 2008 former Texas Attorney General Jim Mattox testified at an Austin hearing of the TDP Advisory Committee on the Convention/Caucus. He testified, “Now let me tell you, folks. This system we’ve got is an expensive system. It’s an unintelligible system. It is an acrimonious system across the board. It is subject to misconduct, it is subject to fraud, it is subject to manipulation. It’s unfair, it’s uncertain, it’s inaccurate, and it’s an embarrassment to our party.” Watch video of Mattox testifying.

“We believe ALL voters should count equally”, said Scott Cobb, one of the organizers of ChangeTheCaucus.org, who attended the hearings held by the Advisory Committee in Harlingen, El Paso, Arlington, Austin, Houston, San Antonio and Nacogdoches.

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