Texas Liberal

All People Matter

Houston Votes Looks To Register 100,000 Harris County Voters—This Is A Worthy Effort

A non-partisan group called Houston Votes is registering people to vote in Houston and Harris County, Texas. Houston Votes recently held a lunch for local bloggers to explain the project. I attended this lunch.

Houston Votes is a project of Texans Together.

In addition to voter registration, Texans Together is working on cleaning the San Jacinto River and on an effort to improve the lives of people living in lower-income apartment housing in the Houston area.

I like what Texans Together is working to accomplish.

Though as Texans Together gets into voter registration, I wish the major funding sources for this group were more transparent on the web page. I don’t see them listed at all.  We do not live in trusting times and if you say your efforts are non-partisan, you’re going to have to back that assertion up with proof.

Looking at the list of board members of Texans Together, I see a number of people who seem to have ties to the Democratic Party, but none who appear to have Republican ties.

If I were a Republican, I would have a hard time with the non-partisan claim.

The long-term purposes of Texans Together would be served by some conservative presence on the board. There is nothing contradictory — in theory at least because I know the political right at the moment is on a tangent — with much of what this group is doing and conservative ideals. If it is to be a non-partisan outfit, then becoming identified with one side of the political aisle or the other will be a hard identification to shake.

I believe in democracy and I believe that all people should vote in all elections. As I wrote here three years ago, I’ve failed to vote once in my life. I did not vote on a single-issue ballot on a hospital bond issue in Hamilton County, Ohio 20 years ago.  This omission forever ruins an otherwise perfect voting record.

My belief in democracy and in voting comes from varying sources. I’m optimistic that democracy and voting can make life better. I feel that people should do their civic duty. I have a streak of nihilism that says if people do want to vote against their interests at times, as they often do, so be it.

At the blogger lunch, Houston Votes had a hand-out suggesting that there are 742,000 eligible unregistered adults in Harris County.  The Houston Votes Goal is to register 100,000 of these people before the October 4 registration deadline. All of the Houston Votes material distributed at the lunch can be found at the Houston political blog Big Jolly Politics.

The focus of the registration drive is low-income minority persons and young people. These are the people Houston Votes has identified as the least likely to be registered in Harris County.

These are also people who may well , taken as a whole, vote for Democrats. It is impossible to know what an individual will do in any given circumstance. But it does seem likely that many of the folks Houston Votes registers will vote Democratic.

If the point is to register those who have not been part of the process and the reality is that many of these people might prove to be Democrats–Then those are the facts.

Yet areas of low turnout in historically Republican areas of the county could have been identified by Houston Votes and these areas could also have been at least some focus of the drive. There are no doubt a number of people in likely Republican areas of Harris County who are eligible to vote but are not registered. Such an effort would lend greater weight to the non-partisan claim. Though in saying this, I do feel Houston Votes believes they are non-partisan and I am convinced they are not asking people in advance how they would vote.

What Houston Votes is doing is excellent. Political parties often have little interest in expanding the pool of registered voters. The Democratic Party uses minority voters and urban voters in every election and often offers little in return. Houston Mayor Annise Parker, a Democrat and someone supported by many progressives, seems to have nothing to say about barbarically high levels of poverty in Houston or about immigration.  Ms. Parker seems content to win in low-turnout elections where she’ll count on Republicans for her success as much as she’ll look to fellow Democrats in our city.

If Democrats really made an effort to register poor people, they would have to do better in serving the interests of poor people. The same goes for the unwillingness of Democrats to really go after increased Hispanic turnout in Harris County.

Republican office holders will also neglect their own people. This something the Tea Party folks will see soon enough from whoever they are able to get elected this November. This is assuming they don’t all go completely crazy by November.

Houston Votes is helping more people take part in the political process. The gap between who lives in Harris County and who votes is a wide canyon. I support this registration effort and would be happy to use this blog to promote future Houston Votes and Texans Together initiatives.

(In addition to Mr. Jennings from Big Jolly Politics, other bloggers at the lunch were Charles Kuffner at Off the Kuff, Martha Griffin at Musings, Stace Medellin at DosCentavos, Perry Dorrell at Brains and Eggs and David Ortez at David Ortez.)

The last day to register to vote in Harris County and in Texas is October 4.  Please be certain to register and to vote.

August 5, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , ,

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