Secretary of State Rolando Pablos Must Obey the Law & Do His Job

Under the Texas election code, high school principals are required to provide at least two opportunities for eligible students to register to vote every year.

However, data from the 2016 election shows that too few high schools are providing their students with the opportunity to participate in the democratic process.

In 2016, just 198 of 1,428 public high schools in Texas, or 14%, and zero private high school requested voter registration forms in the semester before the voter registration deadline.

On September 5, 2017, our partners at the Texas Civil Rights Project delivered a letter to Texas Secretary of State Rolando Pablos demanding that he not only comply with the state law, but that he do so in a way that takes substantive steps to actually empower Texas high schools to get their students registered.

Rolando Pablos has written an op-ed in the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram that says, essentially, “Principals, this is your problem.” His office has otherwise refused to comment.

So we’re going demand that the Texas Secretary of State to take a more direct, proactive role in helping register high school students across the state to vote. And we’re going to call, email, write postcards, and visit his office until he does.

Here’s what Secretary of State Rolando Pablos needs to do:

  1. Distribute voter registration applications to all Texas high schools every year, instead of requiring high schools to to submit a written request for these applications themselves
  2. Ensure that all Texas high schools offer their senior students who are eligible to vote an opportunity to register to vote by instituting a tracking process that would gauge the success of each high school’s implementation of the law
  3. Enhance procedures that notify all Texas high schools of the need to comply with the law
  4. Create trainings for all Texas high schools in order to ensure all legal duties and administrative rules are clear
  5. Enforce state law to ensure that all Texas high schools are in full compliance and register their students to vote.

Directed by Greg Abbott, Pablos’ office already complied with the Trump’s sham “election integrity commission”. We simply refuse to accept further efforts by his office at voter suppression–in this case, by not complying with an existing law.

High school students are the future of our democracy. The Secretary of State must do more to ensure all eligible students are registered to vote.

Contact:
Secretary of State Rolando Pablos

Email: secretary@sos.texas.gov or elections@sos.texas.gov

Phone: (512) 463-5650 or 1-800-252-8683

Fax: (512) 475-2811

Sample Script:

Hello there, my name is ____ and I live in <YOUR ZIP CODE>. I’m calling today because the Secretary of State needs to take a more active role in helping register high school students across the state to vote.

Under Texas election code, high school principals, public and private, are required to register eligible students to vote two times a year. However, only fourteen percent of schools even requested voter registration forms, and zero private schools requested any. High schools are simply not complying with this law.

We are petitioning the Secretary of State’s office to automatically send voter registration cards to the high schools instead of high schools requesting the cards themselves. We are asking that the Secretary of State enhance procedures that notify all Texas high schools of the need to comply with this law. We are also asking that the Secretary of State’s office create trainings for all Texas high schools in order to ensure all legal duties and administrative rules are clear. And we’re demanding that the Secretary of State enforce state law to ensure that all Texas high schools are in full compliance and that they register their students to vote.

 

High school students are the future of our democracy. The Secretary of State must do more to ensure all eligible students are registered to vote.

 

Trump’s “Election Integrity” Push is Voter Suppression on a Massive Scale

Yesterday, the Trump administration defunded the federal agency protecting against vote hacking, ordered states to purge voter rolls, and asked states to supply voter data to suppress even more votes with the Kris Kobach-led office aimed at addressing Trump’s fake “voter fraud” claims. This commission is a sham designed to spread lies about voter fraud & suppress votes.

Texas’ record on voting is already, literally, the worst.

The Kobach commission will use this public, rudimentary data–first and last names–to generate thousands of false matches, leading to misleading claims about the prevalence of double voting. That results in hundreds of legitimate voters being removed from the rolls.

But aside from the wrongness of the Trump administration-GOP’s obvious effort to continue their attempt at remaking America through restrictive voting laws, disenfranchising people of color, the elderly, and young voters, the Kobach-Pence led voter suppression initiative also leaves YOUR personal information–address, phone number, and parts (if not all) of social security numbers–totally susceptible to easy extraction by bad actors. In short, it’s an open invitation to further meddling in the US electoral process by Russian state intel.

Obviously, states should refuse to participate.

While we fear that the Abbott-Patrick-led Texas GOP is happy to carry any water the Trump administration asks it to, especially in light of the fact that they’ve been all too happy to pass any number of unconstitutional laws this session, we must make a concerted effort to resist this voter roll purge.

The sovereignty of our electoral process has already been compromised. Our election was hacked by the Russian government, to help Donald Trump win. This is not conspiracy. This is fact.

Contact the Texas Secretary of State and the Governor’s office, and do this NOW. Demand that they refuse to comply with the Pence-Kobach “election integrity” commission. Remind them that we know our electoral system was breached by a hostile adversary’s spies, and that it’s madness to freely offer up your social security number over an unencrypted channel for more of the same.

UPDATE: Rolando Pablos, Texas’ Secretary of State, said he plans to respond to the request, but it’s not entirely clear how much data he’ll be handing over.

Continue to contact both the Secretary of State and Governor’s office and demand that NO information whatsoever be “turned over”. The endgame of Texas’ participation in this sham commission is simply to create a pretext for federal legislation to make it harder for people to register & vote.

Secretary of State, Elections Division

(512) 463-5650
1-800-252-8683

Secretary of State, Elections Email
elections@sos.texas.gov

Secretary of State, Information Technology

(512) 463-5638

Secretary of State, General

(512) 463-5600

Governor’s office

(800) 843-5789

(512) 463-2000

 

Texans: Amplify Your Activism

Texans: Amplify Your Activism

Do you want to get your member of the Texas legislature or member of Congress to hear what you have to say on an issue that’s deeply important to you?

Are you frustrated by what’s happening with our democracy and do you want to get more involved?

I. If you haven’t already, begin by studying the Indivisible Guide: https://www.indivisibleguide.com. This is your army field guide for the war on our democracy.

Next, pick your issue. What mobilizes you to action: Healthcare? Immigration? LGBT rights? Voting Rights? Repro Rights? Disability Rights? Environmental Protections? Education?

Pick a primary issue (many issues are intersectional and will overlap) – one that energizes you or angers you the most. Then consider your personal connection to that issue: How does this issue touch your life? Does it threaten your health? Safety? Family? Finances? Future? Etc.

II. Find out who decides what will happen to your issue. Is your issue being addressed (or ignored) by bills, laws, or executive order? Find out where your issue belongs:

Local Government:

  • Mayor
  • City Council member
  • Board member (if public school district issue)

State Government:

Your Senator and your House Rep. can be found using the links below.

Federal Government

House of Representatives: You have one for your district

Each State has two Senators that represent the entire state.


When you know Who you need to contact and you’ve thought about Why the issue matters to you, it’s time to write your story.

  • Your story is what makes your stance on an issue so compelling: not only for your community or for the media, but for your representative. I can argue all day about how healthcare is a civil right and how a free market solution and the loss of a social safety net with cost human lives, but that argument is more effective and I’m likely to better argue it when you can tie it to something that personally affects you.

Put together your story in 200 words or less using this outline:

  • Cause
  • Concern
  • Connection
  • Consequence(s)
  • Call-To-Action

Always include your name, address, phone number, and email address so they can reply to you and so they will know you are a constituent (not necessary for letter to the editor submissions)

For example, the issue that drives me and compels me and keeps me up at night is health care. So let’s break it down here, as an example:

  • Cause: Healthcare
  • Concern: The AHCA bill will unravel ACA protections and gut Medicaid
  • Connection: My daughter needs life-saving access to care. She is disabled and has several pre-existing conditions including heart disease and Down syndrome. We are self-employed and qualify for ACA subsidies for access to insurance coverage and are grateful to not be charged more for my daughter’s care due to her disability and existing conditions.
  • Consequence: If AHCA passes and Medicaid cuts go into affect, we may be forced to close our small business and look for work for another employer. Contractors who work with us will not have work. If we can’t afford coverage for my disabled child she will go without treatment for her complex medical conditions, placing her life at risk. Cuts to Medicaid will prolong wait lists for waiver services, placing my daughter at risk of institutionalization.
  • Call-To-Action: Therefore, I ask you Senator Cruz to oppose Medicaid Cuts and Trumpcare.

Now you have your story. It’s time to get your representative to hear it and take action!

Below are the order of operations I like to take for advocacy. You will want to connect with the highest-level government official who can take the action you demand. Ask to meet directly with your representative but be willing to talk with someone else – for now.

Request an in-person meeting with your Representative.

Visit the State Legislature or Congressional website for your Representative to request an in-person meeting with your member of legislature (for State) or member of Congress (federal). Most of them will have an online submission form you must use to request a meeting. Tell them you want to meet and discuss an issue [describe in one sentence what that issue is] and then be sure to copy and paste include your story. If you don’t get a response in a few days, follow up with a phone call to their office to check on the progress of your request. If the representative is unavailable (as they will claim to be in most cases), ask to meet with the regional director (for members of Congress) or Chief of Staff (for state legislators) at the office nearest you. Keep up the request and don’t stop until you get a meeting.

Can’t Stop Won’t Stop

If you still don’t get a response within a few days, say so on social media. Tag your representative to let them know you’ve reached out but no one has answered you. Keep calling and emailing to follow-up until you get an appointment. You may also wish to drop by unannounced at your nearest field office for your representative. Then you can ask them in person about your request for a meeting. Bring a printed-out copy (and an extra) with you in case they offer you an impromptu meeting with the director, deputy director or staff member or intern. Agree to the meeting and at the close, get business cards, ask for a photo of you with the staff member, then ask for a follow-up meeting with the representative in person. Next, snail mail and email a thank you note, a copy of your story and mention your follow-up request to see your representative.

Get Creative!

Write a song, do some artwork, make a video, or write a poem about your issue. Have fun! I’ve seen activists do a “silent-film” style performance about the death of the ACA. It was awesome! Do your thing and deliver it to your representative. Post it on social media. Organize a demonstration with your local Indivisible group on social media and host a rally. Follow up from your rally with a small sign for your representative from the demonstration as a token of the demonstration and deliver your personal letter and call-to-action with your contact information included for follow-up. Photograph the delivery of that action. Spread it across all social media.

Aim for the Top of the Food Chain

The Congress person or State Senator/Representative will likely not meet with you, but they should offer you the opportunity for a meeting with a staff member at their regional office. You want to meet with the highest ranking staff member so ask to meet with the Regional Director (they will pawn you off on an intern if you let them, or another staff member and sometimes the Deputy Regional Director).

You can choose to meet with these other staff members if they don’t make a meeting with the Director available. When you do, take pictures, deliver a print copy of your story and follow-up with a thank you card, email, and post images on social media of your meeting (be sure to flag your MoC in that FB or Twitter post).

In every follow-up correspondence, in addition to thanking them for the meeting, restate your request to meet next with the MoC in person. If you must, settle for a follow-up with the next higher-up – usually the regional director for your Senator or Chief of Staff/Exec. Director for your House Rep. If that option isn’t available, you can also request a conference call with the DC policy point person for your issue.

For example, my issue is healthcare, so I ask to speak with my Senator’s healthcare policy director in DC.

And when meeting with my Texas state legislator, I ask to speak with their Chief of Staff and their healthcare policy director.

Chain of Command

It’s worthwhile to know the how the chain of command works so you can work your way to the top:

  1. Senator or House Rep
  2. Chief of Staff or Executive Director
  3. Policy Director (in Austin for Texas Lege or in DC for MoCs. There is usually one for each major issue).
  4. Regional Director
  5. Deputy Regional Director
  6. Local Office Staff Member
  7. Intern

Follow-Up Procedure

VERY IMPORTANT! Following up correctly is arguably as important as the meeting itself. After every meeting or phone conference, email and snail mail a thank you note and a request to meet with your Representative or MoC (or request a follow-up meeting again if they actually met with you in person).

Remember: you are building rapport with staff. By being persistent in your efforts, they will understand that the only way to get rid of you is by granting you access to your representative or MoC. And when that happens, you will build on that relationship as well. They work for you, after all.

 Your Team

In addition to getting to know the gatekeepers for your Representatives, you will want to get to know and follow reporters and fellow advocates that have access to networks and media. These will be the folks you will notify of all your actions. They will be the voices who will help you amplify your efforts. Find them, friend them, and follow them:

  • News Media, local, state and national
  • Issue-Related Group Networks on Twitter & FB
  • Local and Statewide Issue-Based Advocacy Groups
  • Local and Statewide Indivisible Groups

Helpful links:

Here’s a guide to writing and sending your personal story to members of Congress: http://guides.lib.berkeley.edu/ContactingOfficials/Tips

How to testify at the legislature: http://covertexasnow.org/Resources/How-to-Testify

How to set up a meeting with your MoC: http://familiesusa.org/product/how-set-meeting-your-member-congress

Other Tips:

Don’t forget our Representatives at the State and Federal levels WORK FOR YOU! If you feel intimidated by the process or afraid to ask for what you believe in, don’t be. They represent US. They work for US. And while you don’t need to threaten them with the fact, remember that if they don’t represent us, we will VOTE THEM OUT.

You don’t have to go it alone! It’s great to show a united front for an issue and to show how this affects many people. So bring a buddy! Or two, or three. I would limit visits to Legislative and Congressional staff to six or less people. More than that will usually be too many to accommodate in a meeting comfortably and for whatever reason, in my experience if you have more than half a dozen folks they will ask you to split into smaller groups or come back later. If you do go as a group, make sure you decide in advance who will speak first and what you will say. Make sure everyone is taking the same stance on the issue so there is no divisions among you. And everyone in your group should bring a one-page letter with their story, contact info and call to action –preferably.

Keep up the fight until you see the change you desire. And if you don’t, find out who will run for office to unseat your representative and start working for their campaign. If no one is running, consider a run for office! There is always something we can do. Our democracy depends on our persistent efforts to defend our civil rights and to protect the future for all Americans.

In solidarity,

Julie Ross

 

 

 

The Texas Senate’s Cowardly Response to Recent Voting Rights’ Cases

via Texans Ending Gerrymandering:

Oh, Texans (call to action down below). Instead of considering options for DOING THE RIGHT THING FOR ALL TEXAS VOTERS, on Thursday the Senate passed SB 949 (http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx…) that caps legal fees at $250k to reimburse successful challengers when Texas LOSES constitutional rights cases in voting district and school finance claims. SB 949 is the Lege’s cowardly response to Texas being repeatedly found to have violated Texans’ voting rights under the US Constitution. So if there is a future ruling at the Supreme Court that adopts the Wisconsin standard for how much partisan gerrymandering is “too much,” bringing a court case to challenge partisan gerrymandering in Texas will be all but impossible because the lawyers and experts who take those cases can’t be paid if they win. And if Texas continues to racially gerrymander its voting districts in violation of the US Constitution, there will be no financial ability to bring those cases anymore because the state just wrote itself off the hook.

HB 2221 is the House companion bill to SB 949, and it’s in the House Committee on Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence. The bill is set for a hearing on Tuesday next week. NOW IS THE TIME TO CALL THESE COMMITTEE MEMBERS and tell them you OPPOSE gerrymandering and therefore also OPPOSE HB 2221:

Chair: Rep. John T. Smithee (512) 463-0702
Vice Chair: Rep. Jessica Farrar (512) 463-0620
Members:
Rep. Roland Gutierrez (512) 463-0452 ***
Rep. Ana Hernandez (512) 463-0614
Rep. Jodie Laubenberg (512) 463-0186
Rep. Andrew S. Murr (512) 463-0536
Rep. Victoria Neave (512) 463-0244 ***
Rep. Matt Rinaldi (512) 463-0468
Rep. Mike Schofield (512) 463-0528 (the AUTHOR of HB 2221)

*** Representatives that we know already will oppose HB 2221. But still okay to call to say thanks.

Next, CALL YOUR HOUSE REP and tell them to OPPOSE HB 2221.

And if you’re up for making some more calls, here is last night’s voting record for this atrocious bill (and when they’re up for re-election). It’s worth noting this vote was entirely along party lines, with every R voting “yea” and every D voting “nay”:
Yeas:
Sen. Paul Bettencourt 512-463-0107 (2018)
Sen. Brian Birdwell 512-463-0122 (2020)
Sen. Dawn Buckingham (512) 463-0124 (2020)
Sen. Konni Burton 512-463-0110 (2018)
Sen. Donna Campbell 512-463-0125 (2018)
Sen. Brandon Creighton 512-463-0104 (2018)
Sen. Craig Estes 512-463-0130 (2018)
Sen. Bob Hall 512-463-0102 (2018)
Sen. Kelly Hancock 512-463-0109 (2018)
Sen. Donald Huffines 512-463-0116 (2018)
Sen. Joan Huffman 512-463-0117 (2018)
Sen. Brian Hughes 512-463-0101 (2020)
Sen. Lois Kolkhorst 512-463-0118 (2020)
Sen. Jane Nelson 512-463-0112 (2020)
Sen. Robert Nichols 512-463-0103 (2018)
Sen. Charles Perry 512-463-0128 (2020)
Sen. Charles Schwertner 512-463-0105 (2018)
Sen. Kel Seliger 512-463-0131 (2018)
Sen. Larry Taylor 512-463-0111 (2020)
Sen. Van Taylor 512-463-0108 (2018)

Nays:
Sen. Sylvia Garcia 512-463-0106 (2020)
Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa 512-463-0120 (2020)
Sen. Eddie Lucio 512-463-0127 (2020)
Sen. Jose Menendez 512-463-0126 (2020)
Sen. Boris Miles (512) 463-0113 (2020)
Sen. Jose Rodrıguez 512-463-0129 (2020)
Sen. Carlos Uresti 512-463-0119 (2020)
Sen. Kirk Watson 512-463-0114 (2018)
Sen. Royce West 512-463-0123 (2018)
Sen. John Whitmire 512-463-0115 (2018)
Sen. Judith Zaffirini 512-463-0121 (2020)