Are Elderly Voters Disadvantaged by Caucuses?

July 4, 2008 by  
Filed under Analysis & Research, Blog, Older Voters

According to an InsiderAdvantage/Majority Opinion Research poll conducted on 02.28.08, people who are 65 and over are 26.1 percent of Texas Democratic Primary voters.

The question that needs to be answered by Senator West’s committee is whether elderly voters also constitute 26.1 percent of caucus goers. If they do not, then we can conclude that there are significant barriers to them attending caucuses that many of them are unable to overcome. Elderly voters can vote by mail or during early voting during the primary, but in order to participate in the caucus, they have to appear in person at 7:15pm on a Tuesday night.  This presents insurmountable obstacles for many older voters, who may not drive at night and who may have health issues that prevent them from attending caucuses. Many people older than 85 were part of “the greatest generation”.  We need a system that ensures that their votes count equally.

According to a 2003 report by the Texas Department on Aging:

■ Over 2.7 million Texans are age 60 or older.

■ Older Texans are relatively young; an estimated 66 percent of the older population is younger than 75.

■ 34 percent of the older population is 75 or older, or 918,000 people.

■ Texans 60-plus are projected to total 8.1 million by 2040, a 193 percent increase from 2000. By 2040, the 60-plus population is projected to comprise 23 percent of the total Texas population.

■ The 60-plus population will itself grow older. In 2000, the 85-plus population totaled over 237,000; by 2040, this population is projected to reach about 831,000, a 249.4 percent increase.

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