10 Things you need to know about the Texas Democratic Primary and Precinct Conventions (Caucus)
1. Texas has an open primary
You do not have to “register” with either party in order to vote in the Texas Primary. All registered voters are free to cast a ballot in either the Republican or Democratic Primary
2. Get proof that you voted
Someone should stamp your card when you vote to denote that you participated in the primary. Make sure that they don’t forget because you don’t want to be left out of the precinct convention. Also note that provisional voters may participate in the precinct convention.
3. It doesn’t matter if you vote early or on Primary Day.
There has been some discrepancy here, but early voters are welcome to participate in the precinct conventions as are those who vote on primary day.
4. Return to YOUR precinct.
In early voting you are able to vote at polling places throughout your county. However you must attend the precinct convention at your polling place designated by where you live. Sometimes multiple precincts will hold separate conventions in the same facility. Find out exactly where yours will be.
5. Try to return to your precinct NO LATER THAN 7:15 p.m.
The precinct convention is scheduled to begin at 7:15 across the state. Get there early to ensure your full participation. If you are late you can still participate, however you cannot change what has already happened.
6. The precinct convention does not have to start at 7:15.
Precinct conventions may not begin until the last voter has voted at the precinct polling place (TX Elec. Code Sec. 174.022). Anyone in line to vote at your precinct and votes in the Democratic Primary is eligible to attend the Democratic Precinct Convention.
7. You are not re-voting at the precinct convention
Some people believe that voters will cast another ballot at the precinct convention and that’s it. The precinct convention is similar to a caucus, though caucus is not the proper term for the event.
When you sign in at the precinct convention (see sign in sheet here), you will list which candidate you support. The percentage of individual supporters for each candidate will be calculated and delegates will be allocated accordingly.
Those in attendance at the precinct convention will select delegates to represent them at the county/senatorial convention (urban areas can have more than one convention by Texas Senatorial District). Those county/senatorial delegates will then go on to the State Convention.
See Delegate breakdown by region here.
8. Delegates can switch their allegiance.
It is important to select delegates that strongly represent your candidate. By rule, a delegate can change their mind at the county or state convention up until sign in.
9. Elect alternates
Make sure your convention elects alternate delegates to serve at the county/senatorial convention. The alternates should reflect the percentage of delegates assigned to your candidate.
You wouldn’t want an alternate who supports your opponent to replace someone pledged to your candidate. IMPORTANT: Each precinct convention is entitled to elect one alternate for each delegate the precinct gets to elect to the County/Senatorial District Convention.
10. He/she who knows the rules has the power.
Each convention will elect a permanent convention chair and a permanent secretary. In many cases they will be people who work with the party and have extensive knowledge of the process. They will also have a candidate that they are supporting as well.
It is important that when you attend the precinct convention that you have as much information as possible. That way if something shady goes on, you can stop it before it gets to far. Once the precinct convention is over, it’s too late. Find out about voter education training in your area. Anyone reading this can become a convention chair at their precinct convention.
Knowledge is power, and now you’re ready for the Texas Two Step.