Now registering voters in Travis County, Texas

I have been deputized to register voters in Travis County, Texas, and I’d like Travis County residents to know that, so I’m posting it here, even though many readers are not Travis County residents. If you’re not, please feel free to ignore this post, but you may find something interesting here.

Why fill out a voter registration card?

If you don’t like what’s happening politically in Texas, work to replace those holding office. The days of apathy are over. The least you can do is vote for someone different and better. You could also campaign for a candidate you like, make donations, write letters to the editor, hold house parties, drive people to the polls, and so much more.

One thing that many people don’t know is that just because you’ve voted in the past, it doesn’t mean your voter registration is current. For one thing, if you haven’t voted in two years, your registration gets purged. If you’re not sure when you last voted, fill out a card!

For another, if you’ve moved to Travis County or within Travis County since you last voted, you need to update your voter registration with your current address.

I can help you with that. Seriously, if you’re a Texan, contact me, and I’ll get you registered.

I have the word of Bruce Elfant, Travis County Tax Assessor, who oversees voter registration, that they’d rather you register twice than show up to vote and not be eligible. They screen for duplicates and only use the most current card.

Apparently a whole bunch of us uppity Texas women (and men) have gotten deputized to register voters recently, due to current political circumstances. I heard that over 100 people showed up to the training held yesterday.

How to become a voter registrar

If you’d like to register voters yourself, you can go through the training every Saturday at the First Unitarian Church, 4700 Grover, at 10 am, through the end of August.

You can also become a volunteer deputy registrar on Tuesdays at 10:30, 12:30, and 6:30 at the Travis County Tax Office on Airport Blvd. Training takes about an hour.

Here’s a link to the website for the latest information: http://www.traviscountytax.org/goVoters.do. Bruce Elfant runs a great program educating voters and training registrars. If your Texas county doesn’t have a great program, use the information here.

Being political and registering voters

You can be as political as you want, according to Bruce Elfant. You can sit at a table for the Democratic Party, a particular candidate you support, the Feminist Justice League, Stand With Texas Women, Planned Parenthood, or whomever sponsors voter registration drives, and register voters.

The catch is you have to register anyone who asks to register. You cannot turn anyone away because you disagree with their politics. So I’m going to let them know up front what my politics are!

I’d like to create a button, an orange t-shirt, and a bumper sticker that say:

Don’t Mess With Texas Women. I Register Voters.

I’d love to have other voter registrars go in with me on this. But I only know one other. Maybe this will reach more?

One of the best organizations going (and I’m so glad to see them in Texas) is Battleground Texas. Remember how shocked the Republicans were when Obama got re-elected? Karl Rove on Fox News, refusing to believe the truth? Obama’s campaign staff actually knew how to get out the vote. Obama’s campaigners have fine-tuned electioneering to make it extremely effective.

After he won, his national field director decided that turning Texas blue would be a good follow-up (no matter how long it takes — and it’s inevitable given demographic trends) and set up shop in Austin. Battleground Texas is not a bunch of good ol’ boys slapping each other on the back. These folks are political nerds who collect and analyze data and take action based on facts. They register voters, get them to the polls, encourage early voting, and know where to target to get great results.

Face it, Battleground Texas is the anti-Koch Brothers, the anti-Ted Cruz, the anti-Rick Perry, the anti-Greg Abbott. It’s the pro-women’s rights, the pro-democracy, the pro-Constitution, the pro-health care, the pro-education team working for a better future for the whole state of Texas.

I’m excited about working with them and am waiting to hear back about how I can register voters where it’s most needed.

P.S. added October 17: I have BGTX training on Saturday, October 19!

Pro-choice gathering at Texas Capitol on June 1, 2013

UPDATE: If you have to work on Monday (or are allergic to the sun/heat) and can’t participate in the rally, now you can come after dark for the march from south Congress to the Texas Capitol on Monday night at 8 pm. It’s also a Facebook event at https://www.facebook.com/events/166843946830616/ I’m going to see how my energy is.

Also, Jessica Luther has offered to post updates on the actual legislative process as it proceeds. Go here: http://jessicawluther.com/2013/06/30/update-on-tomorrows-rally-new-events-scheduled-hb2-swtw/.

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I’ll be at the Capitol Monday out of respect for women’s rights to control their own bodies and make their own reproductive choices. I respect those who oppose abortion, as long as they don’t try to legislatively take away a woman’s right to make that very personal decision for herself, which is what the Texas legislature is trying to do under the guise of protecting women’s health.

I also know that I will be standing there for millions of other women and girls around the world, who just want to have the babies they know they can take care of.

I thought it would be a good idea to compile some helpful links if you are planning to go.

RSVP for Facebook events if you plan to attend

There are two events listed on Facebook for the opening of the second special session in Texas after the filibuster and protest that killed SB5 in the first special session:

  • Kill the Bill Volume 2 (with an awesome graphic of Wendy Davis’ head on Beatrice Kiddo’s/Uma Thurman’s body) starting at 10 am (organized by 6 individuals) and continuing until the vote is held. Screen Shot 2013-06-30 at 1.41.07 PM
  • Stand Up Monday – Rally at the Texas Capitol starting at 12 noon (organized by Stand With Texas Women) ending at 2 pm.

For both events, attendees can go sit in the Senate or House gallery to watch the proceedings when they start at 2 pm. Be quiet and respectful, or be escorted out or possibly arrested. The noise last Monday that prevented the vote from taking place before midnight came from those in the rotunda, under the dome, while those in the Senate gallery were slowly being escorted out (or arrested) for being loud. That may or may not happen again.

The vote on SB9/HB2 could happen very quickly (with as many dirty tricks as possible), given what just happened with SB5. I’m sure the legislators would like to be done before July 4, but the special session could last 30 days. Given that the House and Senate introduced different bills, though, it is unlikely they will agree and vote tomorrow. No one knows if there will be another filibuster.

It’s a good idea to know ahead of time whether you’re prepared to participate in acts of civil disobedience and face possible arrest. If you don’t want to be arrested, don’t let that scare you from coming. Your presence is important. You don’t have to participate in anything that would get you arrested, and please recognize that some people may choose to be arrested, but most will not.

Keep calm (and vocal in the appropriate place) and carry on! 

There’s an anti-abortion rally at 10:15 am as well. So far the numbers show the two pro-choice events have over 7,000 and over 5,000 RSVPing (respectively, and there’s no telling how many RSVPed to both), and <700 for the anti-abortion folks.

The pro-choice supporters will be wearing orange (nice choice for Austin, since it’s the color for The University of Texas just blocks away and many have orange shifts). The anti-abortion people are wearing blue.

Text of SB9

The text of SB9 (the number changed with the second special session — SB5 was from the first special session) can be read here. It’s only about the abortion pill. The bill was introduced by Dan Patrick  (Tea Party Republican).

HB2 isn’t available yet but supposedly will be exactly what was introduced in the first special session, both times by Jody Laubenberg (that very same elected official who said that rape kits “clean you out”). http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/tlodocs/832/billtext/pdf/SB00009I.pdf#navpanes=0.

Rebuttal to SB5

A nice rebuttal to SB5 can be found here (and the comments are worth reading): http://crypticphilosopher.com/2013/06/if-youre-planning-on-joining-the-next-round-of-sb5-protests-take-heed/. Excerpt below:

IN CONCLUSION, the bigger issue of the War on Women of which this bill is but one battle is that a primarily rich, white, old, male legislature is determining what SHOULD be a decision between a doctor, a woman, and whatever deity in which a woman believes (if any). They are not in there discussing the man’s obligation and role in a woman’s pregnancy in the first place, men’s rights to Viagra, standards for safe surgical procedures for vasectomies or prostate cancer, rape prevention measures, or appropriate and realistic sex education to prevent pregnancy in the first place.

Austin editorial puts it in context

An editorial from the Austin American-Statesman staff that puts SB5 in the larger context of women’s rights in recent times in Texas: http://www.mystatesman.com/news/news/opinion/davis-filibuster-shifts-abortion-debate-to-womens-/nYYmg/. Excerpt below:

It’s true that prolonged shouts of people packing the Senate gallery prevented a vote in the final minutes of the special session, and thus killed the bill. But the uproar coming from the chamber that night was not the noise of an unruly mob — it was the sound of civil disobedience. It was the tipping point in a steady stream of insults targeting women.

FAQ for SB9 protest

The FAQ for SB9 protest, created by the Kill the Bill creators,  is at https://docs.google.com/document/d/1FD9NpZjiNQzlQgR2k6mXd027rFGacGJ958y6tfHIquk/edit. Note that there are links to various online petitions, places to donate, and lots of good information. Excerpt:

To keep a protest peaceful, there should be an understanding among all protesters that violence and belligerence are not to be tolerated. Keep the confrontation and swearing at a minimum by making sure that everyone at your protest understands that it is a civil, peaceful demonstration. Do not show up drunk, or intoxicated in any way. Be mindful of fellow protesters that have children, have disabilities, or otherwise may need certain accommodations. (Yes, it’s a family friendly event!)

If someone is aggravating a situation, remember that mob mentality can turn from peaceful to riotous quickly. Stay calm, help others remain calm. Continue your peaceful protest. Shift focus from agitators, make jokes, remember why you are there and that being there for the long haul is oftentimes more important than making the news by getting arrested.

Note: sometimes standing your ground peacefully can get you arrested. If this is the case, people are likely more willing to post bail in support of your actions.

More good info including where to get orange shirts

NOWorangeThis site from NOW Austin has lots of good information for people in Austin, the rest of Texas, and those in other states/nations. Facebook and Twitter profiles are also available (see left). Includes links to information about House and Senate rules and rallies on Tuesday in other Texas cities like San Antonio, Beaumont, Fort Worth, Houston, as well as in Austin.  http://www.nowaustin.org/newsite/update-what-you-can-do-to-support-the-texas-feministarmy/.

Everything you wanted to know

Another good source of information is this page from Too Twisted for Color TV, including links to watching online if you can’t be there and how you can help. It’s updated frequently: http://tootwistedtv.blogspot.com/2013/06/everything-you-wanted-to-know-about-tx.html

Your rights at protest and demonstrations

The ACLU has a web page about knowing your rights at protests and demonstrations here: http://www.aclu.org/free-speech/know-your-rights-demonstrations-and-protests.

What should I do if my rights are being violated by a police officer?

It rarely does any good to argue with a street patrol officer. Ask to talk to a supervisor and explain your position to him or her. Point out that you are not disrupting anyone else’s activity and that the First Amendment protects your actions. If you do not obey an officer, you might be arrested and taken from the scene. You should not be convicted if a court concludes that your First Amendment rights have been violated.

Share your opinion NOW with your Texas state representative and senator

If you live in Texas, you can still email or call your Texas state senator and Texas state representative and voice your opinion clearly and respectfully. If you haven’t done that, please, please do it now! It would be so great if some of these officials, who thought they were representing their districts, found out that they actually were not doing that and changed how they intend to vote.

If you don’t know who represents you or how to get hold of them, go here: http://www.fyi.legis.state.tx.us/Home.aspx.

Get deputized to register voters

Since it is possible that this bill will be passed quickly despite our presence, one way to stay active is to make sure supporters are registered to vote. People will be deputizing voter registrars from 2:30-4:30 at 314 W. 11th, a Travis County office. It’s a Facebook event that asks you to join and fill out a form in advance so they can register hundreds if that many want. (Your information is kept private.) See more at https://www.facebook.com/events/272719459532877/.

I will update this with more good links if I discover them and have time.

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Finally, protect yourself from the sun (sunscreen, hats, umbrellas), wear good shoes (you may be on your feet for hours), and stay hydrated.

If you have a personal wifi device, bring it! Make sure your phones and cameras are charged and ready to go! Tweet to #standwithtxwomen, #swtw, #feministarmy, #standwithwendy, #sb9, #hb2, and #txlege. If you want to follow me, I am @wellbodymind. Hope to see you there!

Finally, feel free to share this wherever you think it will help.