Turnout is the wildcard in Texas election

DALLAS-Texans are early voting in person October 20 through November 1. Many seniors and disabled Texans voted by mail as much as a month earlier. Every election, a larger percentage votes before Election Day.

In Dallas, two rallies helped publicize the first day. A coalition consisting of the Dallas AFL-CIO, Communications Workers Local 6215, Jobs with Justice and the Texas Alliance for Retired Workers set up just outside the Records Building downtown. The Records Building is the most central of all the government offices being used for early voting, and it draws a steady stream of voters on the first day.

As the television cameras began to arrive, a great shiny blue bus pulled up by the curb. It was the Dallas stop of the 15,000-mile tour by Americans United for Change.

Slogans on the bus were “Raise the minimum wage!” “Equal pay for equal work!,” “Make college affordable!,” “Invest in our infrastructure!,” and “Protect Social Security and Medicare!” Their overall slogan is “Put the middle class first!”

Between the bus and the television cameras, spokespersons brought out some of the most vital issues in Texas. Women’s rights, secure pensions, and stopping voter suppression topped the list. In the past two weeks, a lower court ruled that Texas voter suppression was illegal and could not be used in the current election period. Then the 5th Circuit, without ruling on the constitutionality of the law, said that Texas must go ahead and apply it in the current election. The Supreme Court upheld that view, again without ruling on constitutionality. Texas has one of the most severe photo-ID requirements in the nation.

The second rally took place in a basement room at the Bank of America near downtown. About 75 people packed into a room set up for 40 because the main speaker was Farm Worker founder and legendary American union activist Dolores Huerta. Huerta was joined on the podium by State Rep. Rafael Anchia, Dallas County Commissioner Elba Garcia, and several community activists from the Texas Organizing Project. TOP organized the rally and led everybody across the street to the Oak Cliff sub-courthouse to vote. 

Texas has been under right-wing Republican rule since 1996. Most of the pundits and pollsters believe that big money, redistricting and voter suppression will keep Republicans in power this year. The wild card in the game, which nobody can predict and which could make all polls obsolete, is voter turnout. Labor and the progressive forces are knocking themselves out to increase it!

Photo: Farmworker legend Dolores Huerta helped kick off early voting at a rally in Dallas. Jim Lane/PW