TX Votes' Civic Notes: April 6

Thank you for your interest in civic engagement. We hope you’ll take what you learn here and spread the word to your friends and family!

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TX Votes Event on April 9th @ 6 PM

“Navigating Engagement at the Capitol and City Hall”

We know that change starts at the local level, and we want to help you feel inspired to get involved and use your power to shape policies in your city and state!

This event features a panel of 3 guest speakers with experience in and around the state legislature and city hall. This event will demystify the process of having your voice heard in the decisions that impact you most. After the panel, we will be an open Q&A: a chance to get expert advice on talking to your representatives and navigating the challenges you see in this process.

What you can expect to learn:

  • How legislation moves through the process in the city and state government

  • When and how YOU can make public comments

  • How to testify effectively

  • How to make communication with your representatives meaningful

Register for the event here!


Opportunities

Rock the Vote Remote Summer Internship

Fall 2021 Legal Internships at LWV - Voting Rights, Litigation, and Advocacy


May 1st Special Election

Austin has a special election on May 1st! Here are the ballot propositions that will be voted on.

Special Election Timeline

Monday, April 19, 2021 - First Day of Early Voting

Tuesday, April 20, 2021 - Last Day for County to Receive Absentee Ballot Application (RECEIVED, not Postmarked)

Tuesday, April 27, 2021 - Last Day of Early Voting

Saturday, May 1, 2021 - Election Day 

Saturday, May 1, 2021 - Last Day for County to Receive Ballot by Mail (by 7 pm)

Voting Information and Resources


Voter Disenfranchisement

Our civics article for this newsletter is about criminal voter disenfranchisement. Learn more about the problem and what we can do to tackle it.

By Susan Cardone

Do you know if formerly-incarcerated folks are allowed to vote in Texas? Are there specific people who can vote and others who can’t? What kind of qualifications does one need to have to be able to vote? What are the differences in voting rights in various states in the United States? 

These are a few of the questions many Texans do not know the answer to. In simple terms, those who are ex-felons can vote, but only in certain instances. 

Texas is one state that allows individuals to submit a voter-registration application along with an absentee or vote-by-mail request through jail voter registration initiatives.

Why does this problem matter?

Voter disenfranchisement is voter suppression. Some examples of voter suppression include inaccessibility of polling locations, inaccessibility of voting by mail, long wait times, low voter education, low number of polling locations in largely BIPOC and/or low-income areas, and more. It is anything that impedes a person’s ability to vote. Therefore, an example of voter suppression is restricting, or making very difficult, the ability to vote for formerly-incarcerated folks. If you care about combating voter suppression, you should care about criminal and felony disenfranchisement. 

In the United States, voting is deemed as a right, not a privilege. By definition, privileges may be suspended indefinitely or for a period of time while a person is incarcerated, but rights can not be taken away-no matter what. Yet, states pass laws to take away a person's right to vote away because of their incarceration or former incarceration. Unfortunately, they are allowed to, as the Supreme Court has ruled that it is justified through the Fourteenth Amendment. However, if we really want to mean it when we say “every vote counts”, we must allow everyone’s vote to be counted. Everyone equally deserves the right to vote. 

What can I do to help combat voter disenfranchisement? 

Educate yourself. Did you know that 5.2 million people nationally cannot vote because of a previous felony conviction? Or that felony disenfranchisement laws disproportionately affect African Americans? Find out more information at these 2 sites: here and here.

Formerly-incarcerated folks and those with felony convictions can use this site to see if they can vote where they live.

Below is a map that gives an overview of how criminal disenfranchisement laws affect people in various states. 2 states allow for no disenfranchisement for people with criminal convictions. 3 states allow for voting right restorations automatically after prison and discharge from parole, and people on probation may vote. Similarly, 17 states allow for voting right restorations automatically after release from prison. 17 states, including Texas allow for voting rights restorations upon completion of prison, parole, and probation. 2 states have permanent disenfranchisement for all people with felony convictions. 9 states have permanent disenfranchisement for some people with criminal convictions.


Interesting Articles

Here are some interesting articles and news stories we found over the last two weeks! TX Votes is a nonpartisan organization dedicated to providing voting and civic engagement information, and our only goal with this section of our newsletter is to share a few interesting articles and news about Texas and its politics! We encourage you to read multiple sources and a variety of viewpoints to ensure you are well informed.


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