Texas Democrats missed an opportunity at their state convention last month to make their selection of presidential delegates less cumbersome and more equitable. In doing so, they have mistakenly chosen to perpetuate a system that creates two classes of Democratic voters.At issue is the Texas Two Step, a delegate selection process peculiar to Lone Star Democrats. A small number of state parties select their presidential nominating convention delegates through caucuses. The vast majority apportion delegates based on the primary vote.
Only Texas Democrats employ a two-step, hybrid system. Some presidential delegates are apportioned on the basis of primary results, while others become delegates as a result of deliberations at precinct caucuses the night of the primary election.
It’s a confusing system, one that produced logistical nightmares during the high-turnout 2008 race between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. But its fundamental flaw is that it is unfair.
If you’re a Democrat who has a night job or evening classes or children who can’t be left alone or you’re a member of the military who has been deployed and must vote absentee, you’re a second-class voter. You can show your preference at the ballot box, but you can’t make your voice heard at the precinct caucuses.
For party insiders, that’s just the way they want it. And they got their way at the state convention, beating down a grassroots effort to apportion all presidential delegates on the basis of the primary vote.
Two chances to end this convoluted system remain. The Texas Democratic Party must obtain a special waiver to use the Texas Two Step from the Democratic National Committee. The national party should cease granting that waiver.
The League of United Latin American Citizens of Texas, the Mexican American Bar Association of Houston and other groups have challenged the system, claiming the caucus apportionment produces a dilution of minority representation. A three-judge federal panel allowed the challenge to go forward last summer, advancing it to the Justice Department for review.
Texas Democrats would have done themselves a favor if they had simply ended the Texas Two Step on their own. A party that wants to attract voters and win shouldn’t maintain a system that is contemptuous of the grassroots and creates obstacles for participation.
Express-News Editorial Board –
Web Posted: 07/06/2010 12:00 CDT