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The elephant in the Texas voting booth that neither party wants to talk about is the suppression of a plurality of Texas voters. Surprise! There are more non-aligned and independent Texans than Democrats or Republicans.
We at LIV see the Texas GOP fighting the inevitable as Texas turns not blue but into a politically competitive state. Competition is good, though we have big bones to pick with both parties.
This survey conducted by a respected Republican pollster, Chris Perkins (Ragnar Research, paid for by a political advocacy group, Secure Democracy), shows clearly how Republican voters believe the Texas GOP is actually going in the wrong direction on their "election integrity" agenda. (Note: Our only complaint about the poll is the question about ERCOT. Perhaps they should have asked something like, ‘fix the grid without the total costs offloaded onto ratepayers.’)
Ballot access rules are how the parties play monopoly.
Independent candidates and new parties in this next election (November 2022) must gather 83,434 signatures of voters who did not vote in the primary in 60 to 75 days to get on the ballot. If there's a runoff, statewide independent candidates have to wait for the outcome. Then they've got 30 days to get 83,434 signatures!
Texas is the only state in the country that does not allow primary voters to sign independent and new party petitions. All signatures must be notarized. Texas petitioners have very few places to gather signatures considered "public places." All of the above has driven the cost for ballot access to $1 million.
It's also likely that the Texas primaries will be delayed from March to perhaps May or June. Therefore, a new party and statewide independents may not tell their supporters they are certified for the ballot until August or September 2022!
The Parties Are So 1800s" –
Mark Cuban, July 4, 2019
This urgently necessary federal lawsuit by the Center for Competitive Democracy and the international firm, Shearman & Sterling (pro bono), is finally moving through the courts, having been stalled during COVID. Billionaire star Mark Cuban, who famously does not donate to candidates or parties, is a big supporter of the litigation.
If the suit prevails on all points, signatures would be reduced to 10,000, gathered online, the petition period expanded, and any registered voter would be able to sign, regardless of voting in the primary.
Texas Independents are the
Most Suppressed Voters and by Both Parties
Our major parties in Texas have suppressed independent politics since 1967. That's when the Texas Legislature changed the petition requirements. Back then, it was easy. A party could hold a few conventions and be on the ballot.
In 2006, when two independents ran for Governor (Carole Strayhorn and Kinky Friedman), 1.3 million Texans voted for either. Rick Perry got reelected with 39%. The combined votes for Carole and Kinky were 30.56% to Democratic candidate Chris Bell's 29.79%.
See where we're going here? If a third candidate with some name recognition and funding gets on the 2022 ballot – and only one of them, please – that candidate can theoretically overcome Abbott and the Democratic candidate or help take down King Greg with his $55 million war chest. Moreover, there is no question that a third viable candidate could reshape the two-party demolition derby and make both parties get serious about addressing the big problems all Texans face -- such as a destabilized energy grid and the "Californiafication" of our groundwater policies.
Will the Texas ballot access lawsuit be resolved in time for the 2022 election? No one knows.
As the Parties Act A Fool
The Democrats chose the easy (and predictable) way out by making a run for D.C. Instead, they could have reached out to independent voters to help them settle the score with the Texas GOP. But, like the Republicans, they have no intention of sharing power.
Meanwhile, Republicans are kicking up a fuss about Democrats having absconded from the Governor's "Suppression Session." But they sure as heck have no intention of telling their supporters about Abbott's abuse of power. Specifically, we refer here to the separation of powers (aka checks and balances) in the U.S. and Texas Constitution.
We find it hilarious that the Governor's (King Greg) actions open the door for this embarrassing possibility. Read Quorum Report Harvey Kronberg's latest from behind its paywall, "Article X Veto may have compromised full control of Texas redistricting."
Neither Party Gets It About Texas Independents
This solid June 2021 UT Tyler/Dallas Morning News poll gives us some very helpful hints about us independent Texans. First, Hispanic and black voters do not strongly identify with the Democratic Party in Texas. Black Texans only identify with the Democratic Party at 31%, and 25% of them identify as "leaning no party." It also appears that Hispanic voters identify equally or more so as "leaning no party." (Note: In 2006, the combined vote totals for Carole and Kinky won Bexar County and 46 other counties. See Divided We Stood.) And, this 2017 NBC poll on Millennials across the racial divide revealed how wildly independent younger voters are.
The book "Breaking of the Two-Party Doom Loop" by Lee Drutman is a must-read for political independents. But with much respect, we think the political scientist might be missing something. It's about the voters.
Voters have seen "third parties" and independent candidates come and go – mostly go. We at LIV are convinced of the need for a permanent non-partisan association of Texas independents -- of, by and for independent, non-aligned voters -- that will continue the year in year out work of advocating for a multi-party system.