Midterm election years are generally not that exciting. Voter turnout usually drops dramatically, news coverage tends to be small, and you’re not likely to see a lot of passionate political posts on your social media feeds.
This year, things might be different.
Following a contentious 2016 election year, a wave of passion and interest is starting to swirl around this election cycle.
Here’s a snapshot and news roundup of what’s happening in Texas:
1. A lot more women are running for office – As KUT reports, 110 women are running to serve in the Texas Legislature (compared to 76 in 2016) and as the Texas Tribune reports, 50 women are running to represent Texas in the US Congress.
2. One of the Austin area’s long-serving US Representatives (Lamar Smith) announced his retirement in November, opening the door for a big election for Texas’s 21 US Congressional District seat. On the Republic side, 18 candidates are vying to replace him, including Jason Isaac, who currently serves in the Texas Legislature and represents District 45 (which includes Blanco and Hays counties). On the Democratic side, several prominent Austinites had already pledged their intention to run before Smith announced his retirement, including Elliott McFadden, Derrick Crowe, Joseph Kopser, and Mary Wilson.
3. The race for Texas House District 46 (which includes East Austin) has also turned into a contentious one, with several Democrats running against the incumbent, 12-term Democrat Dawnna Dukes. These candidates include Sheryl Cole (a former Austin City Council person), Jose “Chito” Vela (an immigration attorney), Ana Cortez, Casey McKinney, and Warren Baker.
The past year has been filled with controversy surrounding Dukes, who was indicted on felony and misdemeanor charges for falsifying entries on travel vouchers to get money for expenses she wasn’t entitled to and for using legislative staff for non-legislative purposes, including babysitting her child. All charges against Dukes have since been dropped, after the prosecution revealed in October that their case was based on flawed evidence.
Concerns have also been raised about Dukes’ absence from many of the many votes taken during the legislative session. A story in the Texas Tribune revealed that by April of 2017, she had already missed more than 100 votes (the most of any lawmaker).
4. For the first time in 25 years, Democrats are running in all of Texas’ 36 congressional districts, according to KUT. Democrats are also running in 89 percent of the seats in the Texas House and in 88 percent of the seats in the Texas Senate, the highest percentages since 1992.
So what does this mean for you?
No matter what your political stripe, this is going to be a busy election season and you don’t want to miss out. Texas has the earliest primary election of any state in the country. Our Election Day is March 6th and early voting begins February 20th. That means in order to participate, you have to be registered to vote by February 5th.
If you’re a Travis County resident, you can register to vote by filling out this form>>
If you’re a Williamson County resident, you can register to vote by filling out this form>>
How do primary elections work?
For those who aren’t as familiar, primary elections are the way that each political party selects their candidate to run in the November election. In Texas, you do not need to register as a member of any particular party in order to vote in primary election. All you need to do is show up at the polls on Election Day and select which party’s primary you’d like to vote in. The only rule is that you can’t vote in multiple party’s primary elections in the same year. You have to pick one.
Want to help get others registered to vote in 2018?
Sign up to become a Volunteer Deputy Registrar (VDR)! The training class only lasts an hour and in Travis County, is held the first Tuesday and Saturday of each month. You can learn more here>>