The first Texas Democratic Party State Convention since the end of the Texas Two Step will be held in San Antonio June 16-18, 2016. This is the first year that all of the pledged delegates to the national Democratic convention are allocated from Texas based solely on the results of the primary instead of the old primary/caucus hybrid system that we successfully worked to end. The Texas two-step system was first tried in 1976 and was used continuously every four years from 1988-2012.
The Texas Democratic Party has a website that gives all the information, including how to file to run for national delegate or for a position on a committee or for the SDEC.
Good luck to everyone who decides to run for a position.
From the Texas Tribune “Texplainer: What’s the “Texas Two-Step” and Why is it Gone?”:
The Democratic Party is getting rid of the “Texas Two-Step” voting system. What does this mean for the 2016 presidential election?
While Democratic parties in the other 49 states and Washington, D.C., hold either a primary or a caucus to nominate a presidential candidate, Texas has both — or it at least did before last month, when the Democratic National Committee forced the state to choose one.
The hybrid system, called the “Texas Two-Step,” was a unique way of apportioning delegates to the state’s Democratic presidential nominating convention. Here’s how it worked: A primary election allocated 75 percent of Texas’ about 250 delegates based on state senate district voting results. The other “at-large” delegates, not tied to any district, were allocated at Democratic caucuses held across the state after the primary election. Any Texas Democrat could vote in the primary and a voter had to vote in the primary, or during the early voting period, to participate in the caucus.
In a Democratic primary election, voters used a secret ballot to select their presidential candidate. The caucus, though, was similar to a town hall meeting; supporters gathered to discuss party platforms and choose delegates for their candidates. It depended on getting a candidate’s supporters in the right place at the right time. The percentage of votes a candidate received at the caucus determined the percentage of at-large delegates allocated to that candidate. Here’s a simplified example: If 100 people showed up at a Burnet County caucus that had 10 delegates to allocate and 50 voted for Candidate A, 30 voted for Candidate B and 20 voted for Candidate C, then the candidates would walk away with 5 delegates, 3 delegates and 2 delegates, respectively. The more supporters who showed up for a certain candidate, the more delegates that candidate received. The total delegate count was the number a candidate received from the primary and from the caucus, but to be eligible for any delegates, candidates had to receive at least 15 percent of the vote.
But now the two-step system is gone. For the 2016 election, delegates will only be allocated via primary election. Three-quarters of delegates were already determined by the primary vote. The only change will be how the 25 percent of at-large delegates are divided. Instead of caucus votes, the number will be determined by the statewide vote. Why did the DNC make Texas change its system? “The Rules and Bylaws Committee review found that the complex two-step system that Texas previously followed had the potential to confuse voters,” DNC spokeswoman Miryam Lipper said in a statement.
Now that the about 250 delegates will be allocated on the same day, Texas will be the largest prize of all the Super Tuesday Democratic primary elections on March 1.
The two-step had garnered complaints, especially after the 2008 election. Barack Obama’s campaign informed voters of the caucus’ importance, so they turned out to support him. Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, but because of the primary/caucus hybrid, Obama won more presidential delegates and claimed victory in Texas, leading some to call the system undemocratic. Additionally, the popularity of the 2008 election brought thousands of new voters to the caucuses and overwhelmed the voting process, strengthening the case against the Texas system. Some have also criticized the two-step for discriminating against the elderly, soldiers and others who cannot physically come to a caucus.
But Democratic Party leaders in Texas wanted to keep the two-step because they say it encourages voter engagement. When manpower determines who wins the caucus delegates, supporters have an incentive to turn out in large numbers. “Our argument is that we see a lot more participation and a lot more party building when people would actually come to the caucuses in person,” said former state Rep. Glen Maxey, who now works for the Texas Democratic Party.
The change wasn’t a complete surprise. Texas Democratic Party leaders say the system has been on thin ice for a while. The Texas system was grandfathered in and DNC officials had been telling the state for years it would have to choose either a primary or a caucus. Texas applied for a waiver for the 2008 and 2012 elections to keep the two-step. Maxey traveled to Washington, D.C., last month to advocate for the hybrid system in front of a DNC rules committee, but the request was denied.
The two-step system has been in place since 1976, state party leaders said, when Democrats added a primary to the existing caucus. Before 2008, the process had not received much scrutiny because the primary races weren’t close and the party usually knew who the nominee would be before the primary election.
Texas Republicans tried to create their own two-tiered process, similar to the two-step, for the 2016 election, but its national committee rejected the proposal. Like the Democrats, the Republicans will allocate delegates based on primary voting results.
Bottom line: The average Democratic voter won’t notice a huge change without the two-step system. Caucuses will no longer determine the nominee and the Texas primary becomes more important nationwide, especially on Super Tuesday.
The state Democratic Party said it must abandon its traditional – but sometimes complex and confusing – primary process called the Texas Two-Step.
The national party rejected the Texas plan last Friday, leaving state party leadership to revise the process in favor of a straightforward vote.
The Texas primary next year falls on March 1 and is part of the Super Tuesday balloting, in which Texas will have the largest treasure trove of delegates among the 12 states voting.
Under the new plan, voters in the Texas Democratic Party will simply go to the polls, and candidates receiving a baseline of 15 percent of the vote will receive a proportionate number of delegates to the national convention.
Previously, Democratic voters cast ballots during the day, and then could return to the polling place after 7 p.m. to caucus. The rules stated that 65 percent of delegates were decided by the vote and another 35 percent were awarded by the decisions of those who returned to caucus.
The process gave the most motivated voters more leverage in the delegate selection.
But in 2008, when turnout mushroomed in the primary battle between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, Democratic precincts were overwhelmed with both voters and the throngs who returned to caucus. The process was chaotic in many places and widely criticized.
Clinton ended up winning the election portion, but Obama evened up the contest through his power among caucus-goers. Eventually, the delegates were split 65 for Clinton and 61 for Obama.
Texas Democratic Party Executive Director Crystal Perkins said it was unfortunate that the “Texas Two-Step will not take place this election cycle.”
But she acknowledged, “Under the new plan, individual Democratic primary voters will have more power in the selection of their nominee.”
“Texas Democrats will have an important voice in selecting that nominee, and the winner of the Texas Democratic primary will score a definitive victory in 2016,” she said.
The Texas Democratic Party will not use the Texas Two Step system to allocate delegates in 2016 and most likely will never use it again. In 2008 we collected thousands of signatures at the TDP state convention and brought the issue to the floor, but the system was not changed. We tried again in 2010, but we could not convince the TDP to reform their primary process to align it with the rest of the state Democratic parties. Now however, it looks like our work is paying off. The national DNC is compelling the TDP to abandon the TDP’s 20th century primary process. Now that TDP is no longer wasting time clinging to an outdated primary system, we hope to see more changes to the TDP to build a dynamic Party ready and able to win statewide elections in Texas.
From the Houston Chronicle:
Critics of the two-step argued that the caucuses excluded the elderly and disabled, as well as members of the military and those who work at night.
Among them were state Rep. Sylvester Turner, who in 2008 criticized the process for giving some voters a greater say in the nominating process than others.
Supporters, on the other hand, said the two-step helped to boost party involvement, empowering new groups of voters.
After two years of debate, delegates to the 2010 state party convention decided to continue the dance, with nearly 75 percent of attendees voting in favor of the two-step process.
In the years since, the DNC’s rules and bylaws committee continued to grant Texas a waiver permitting the bifurcated nominating process, until last week.
“Texas had a very unique system that was different from any other primary delegate selection process in the county, and this rules and bylaws committee decided that it was time,” said DNC spokeswoman Miryam Lipper.
In response to the waiver denial, state Democratic Party Executive Director Crystal Perkins drew attention to the number of delegates Texas will determine on its new, earlier primary date.
“We’re excited that Texas will be the largest prize on Super Tuesday for our presidential nominee, allocating the most delegates on March 1,” Perkins said in a statement Tuesday.
Turner, who will be on the ballot as a candidate for Houston mayor, hailed the change.
“The old two-step system was simply antiquated. It was not very useful in terms of enhancing people’s participation, and quite frankly, it just made people more frustrated than anything. So, I’m glad it’s gone,” Turner said. “Eliminating the two-step process, I think we honor and we respect one person, one vote.”
The Texas Two-Step that gained notoriety — if not infamy — under the spotlight of a closely contested 2008 Democratic presidential nomination process is dead for 2016.
For years Texas Democrats have split the allocation of their national convention delegates across both a primary election and a caucus/convention process. Roughly two-thirds of the delegates have been awarded to presidential candidates based on the statewide presidential primary results while the remainder were allocated at the state convention (through Texas senate district conventions).
Again, this has been the standard operating procedure for the Texas Democratic Party through much of the post-reform era. The winner of the primary has tended to be the winner of the caucuses as well. The two exceptions to that rule were 1988 when Michael Dukakis won the March 8 primary, but Jesse Jackson won the caucuses, and in 2008, a cycle that saw Hillary Clinton win the Texas primary on March 4, but lose the overall delegate count in the Lone Star state to Barack Obama, who had won the caucuses later in the day.
That latter outcome brought the Two-Step under increased scrutiny. And it was an interesting microcosm of a narrative tightly woven into the fabric of the 2008 nomination: that Obama was winning low turnout caucus votes while Clinton was claiming victories — and a greater number of votes overall — in primaries.1
Despite the 2008 controversy, the Texas Two-Step survived and once again netted the Texas Democratic Party a waiver in 2012.2 That fact, though, brings into focus another portion of what has become standard in the implementation of the state-level rules: The Two-Step is only compliant with Democratic National Committee delegate selection rules with some help. The state party has successfully petitioned the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee for a waiver to hold the “double vote” primary-caucus even though (national) Democratic rules prohibit it.
Basically, the Two-Step has been grandfathered in since the rules were changed. Texas was the lone remaining state to have continually been granted a waiver to allocate delegates through both a primary and a caucus. But that waiver was not granted for 2016. The Rules and Bylaws Committee unanimously rejected the waiver request at its Friday meeting in Washington. The Rules and Bylaws Committee conditionally approved the draft Texas delegate selection plan. But the condition was — at least partially — that it drop the caucuses from the allocation equation.
What that means is that Texas Democrats will now allocate all of their delegates proportionally (as mandated by the national party rules) based on the statewide results in the March 1 presidential primary.
Also from Twitter, we saw this letter:
So, turning to 2016, it looks like the Texas two-step for Democrats is dead. pic.twitter.com/xuFbRwNesJ
— Michael Li (@mcpli) June 28, 2015
Attend the meeting “Reform the TDP Caucus/Primary Process” from 9-11 AM on Friday at the TDP state convention
Are you interested in reforming the Texas Democratic Party’s primary/caucus system? Would you prefer that in future presidential election years all delegates to the national convention are allocated solely based on the results of the popular vote in the primary?
The 2010 Texas Democratic Party State Convention is your chance to change the party rules.
Attend the meeting “Reform the TDP Caucus/Primary Process” from 9-11 AM on Friday at the state convention in Room 225 D-E, American Bank Center.
Under the current Texas Democratic Party primary/caucus system 65 percent of the pledged delegates are apportioned based on the primary results and 35 percent of the pledged delegates are apportioned based on the results of the caucus/convention system.
The current system decreases the voting strength of people who cast a ballot in the primary but who do not or cannot return to caucus at the precinct conventions.
While all eligible voters have an opportunity to vote in the primary by mail or during the early voting period, 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.
A new system with all the pledged delegates allocated based solely on the results of the primary would be fairer and more inclusive.
This proposal for change is coming up from the grassroots of the party because Democrats across the state brought resolutions to their precinct conventions last March proposing changes to the party rules. Many of those resolutions passed precinct conventions and then were approved at multiple senatorial district or county conventions, so they will now be considered by the Rules Committee at the State Convention.
If you are interested in learning more about our proposal to change the primary/caucus system and how you can help us persuade the Party to change the rules, you can attend our issue caucus meeting at the State Convention on Friday, June 25, from 9 -11 AM.
“Reform the TDP Caucus/Primary Process”, Room 225 D-E, American Bank Center, 9-11 AM on Friday at the state convention.
We need volunteers to help us at the State Convention to collect signatures on a petition to change the party rules.
If you can volunteer to help us collect petition signatures, please go to the exhibition hall at the convention center and look for the booth for “Reform the TDP Caucus/Primary Process”. We will have stickers and lots of clipboards, all we need are volunteers to help us collect the signatures.
If you are interested in changing the party rules, we encourage you to run for election to the Rules Committee from your senatorial district. Many reform resolutions were approved at senatorial district or county conventions, so reforming the primary/caucus issue will be considered by the Rules Committee.
If you have questions or you can help us collect signatures on Friday or Saturday, please contact Scott Cobb by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also call Scott at 512 552 4743 or Linda Burgess at 512 529 7235. You can reach them at those cell phone numbers during the convention.
For background information visit our website www.changethecaucus.org.
See you in Corpus Christi!
The Texas Democratic Party has assigned us a meeting time and room for our caucus meeting at the TDP State Convention June 25-26 in Corpus Christi. Our caucus name is “Reform the TDP Caucus/Primary Process” and we will meet from 9-11 AM on Friday, June 25.
The Party says “We are looking forward to having you and your caucus with us at the Texas Democratic Party’s 2010 State Convention. As you know, we are expecting as many as 5,000 Delegates, Alternates, members of the press and guests. With your help, I am sure this will be our most exciting and dynamic convention to date”.
Caucus Name: Reform the TDP Caucus/Primary Process
Date: Friday, June 25
Time: 9:00 – 11:00am
Location: Room 225 D-E, American Bank Center
The following resolution was passed by the Senatorial District 25 convention held on March 20, 2010 in Bexar County. The vote was 29-24.
If you know of any other Senatorial District or County Conventions passed the resolution, let us know in the comments or by using the contact form.
Resolution to Select All National Delegates Based on Presidential Primary Results
Whereas, it is a Democratic Party principle that each Democratic voter’s vote should have equal weight;
And the presidential selection caucus system makes some Democratic voters’ votes more important than others;
Whereas, it is a Democratic Party principle that all Democrats should have easy access to the ballot;
And the presidential caucus is unavailable to many Democratic voters because of the weekday evening hour if they work, have small children, are disabled, are homebound, in the military or out of county;
Whereas, Democratic voters are allowed to cast their primary vote by mail or during the two weeks of early voting to accommodate varied working and travel schedules as well as the needs of those over the age of 65 and the disabled;
And the caucus vote is at only one hour on one day;
Therefore, be it resolved that the Texas Democratic Party shall institute true democracy in the presidential primary process by abolishing the hybrid system of allocating presidential delegates by a combination of primary and caucus results and instituting a delegate allocation system based solely on the presidential primary results.
Attend County Conventions Today, March 20, to Vote on Resolutions to Reform Texas Primary/Caucus System
The Texas Democratic Party is holding county and senatorial district conventions today, March 20, around the state. Many resolutions to reform or end the Texas Two Step were passed at precinct conventions on March 2. These resolutions will be considered today in the Resolutions Committees at the County and Senatorial District conventions. If they pass the resolution committees, then the resolutions will be considered on the floor of the conventions by all the delegates. It may be late in the afternoon until the resolutions reach the floors of the conventions, so if you want to be able to vote on the resolutions, you will need to stay until they come up for a vote, which could be late in the afternoon.
Please try to get elected a delegate to the State Convention in Corpus Christi in June. We will need you at the State Convention to support the resolutions.
Scott Cobb took the resolution below to his precinct 231 convention in Senatorial District 14 in Travis County and it was approved unanimously with one person, the chair, not voting. If you took a resolution to your precinct, let us know if it passed.
Resolution to Reform the Texas Two Step System of Allocating Delegates in Presidential Election Years
Whereas the current Texas Two-Step system used to apportion delegates among candidates for the Democratic nomination for president is unfair because it violates the principles of “one person, one vote” and “equal opportunity to vote”, and
Whereas under the Texas Two-Step system 65 percent of the pledged delegates are apportioned based on the primary results and 35 percent of the pledged delegates are apportioned based on the results of the caucus/convention system, and
Whereas the Texas Two-Step decreases the voting strength of people who cast a ballot in the primary but who do not or cannot return to participate in the caucuses, and
Whereas 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.
Whereas Texas is the only state where the Democratic Party uses a combined primary and caucus system to apportion delegates and in order to use its unfair system, the Texas Democratic Party has had to get a waiver from the DNC because DNC rules normally do not allow the kind of hybrid system that Texas uses, and
Whereas a system with all the pledged delegates allocated based on the results of the primary would be fairer and more inclusive.
Therefore, be it resolved that the Texas Democratic Party shall change its rules to require adoption of a Texas National Delegate Selection Plan for future presidential election years under which all pledged national delegates shall be allocated based on the results of the popular vote in the Texas presidential primary.
Passed by the precinct convention held in Precinct 231 Senatorial District 14 on March 2, 2010.
Media Advisory: Democrats Seeking to Reform Party Rules Will Push Resolutions at Precinct Conventions March 2 to End the “Texas Two-Step”
For immediate release: March 2, 2010
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.