TX Votes' Civic Notes: May 4

Last newsletter of the semester! We'll see you back in the Fall! Thank you for your support!

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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Opportunities

New Politics Forum’s Texas Civic Ambassador Program Application

Campus Vote Project Job Opportunities

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

Open Positions in the Office of U.S. Congressman Lloyd Doggett for UT Grads/Graduating Seniors: Interested candidates should email a resume, cover letter, short writing sample, and three references to Erin.Gurak@mail.house.gov.


TX Votes 2020 - 2021 Year in Review

This past year has been unprecedented in many ways. Last year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, TX Votes quickly had to move all of our organizing and voter outreach efforts online. We wanted to take the opportunity in our last newsletter of the semester to reflect everything we accomplished this past year!

  • Started a new committee: the Digital Committee, which is focused on digital organizing and creating online content to spread awareness and educate UT students about voting and civic engagement!

  • Created a new website: tx-votes.com

  • Organized and distributed personalized voting information guides for Texas’s July 2020 runoff election

  • 2 amazing new Program Coordinators: Krista Gelhausen and Cole Wilson! 

  • Started TX Votes’ Civic Notes, a bi-weekly newsletter

  • Published 13 issues of our newsletter

  • Published 14 videos in 4 different languages

  • Presented voting information to 189 classrooms

  • 1,365 students contacted with campus canvass initiative across 3 events

  • 23 partnerships at UT and beyond, including UT Football and UT Athletics

  • 75 newsletter subscribers

  • 105 downloads of our Canvas module

  • Worked with 90+ students from the School of Social Work for over 1300 hours of voter engagement

  • Raised over $29,000 through many fundraisers like Hornraiser and 40 for Forty

  • Collaborated with over 27 student organizations on campus

  • Hosted many incredible events, including an alumni panel, an event about “Working in Civic Tech”, and an event about "Navigating Engagement at the Capitol and City Hall”

  • Expanded our social media presence: TX Votes was on UT Austin’s and Moody’s Instagram Story. We went live on social media with UT Student Affairs. We shared voting graphics with many organizations on campus to spread the word about voting in the 2020 Election

  • And so much more! Thank you so much for your support!


Redistricting

Our civics article for this newsletter is about redistricting! Learn more about the importance of redistricting, reapportionment, and the Census!

By Caroline Savins

Knowing about the Census, reapportionment, and redistricting is important because they are interrelated activities that affect representation in the U.S. House of Representatives. This should matter to us as citizens because the people who represent our districts are a part of creating legislation and laws in Washington, D.C. 

Reapportionment is the process of assigning representation based on population after the Census is complete and redistricting is to set up the new district lines after the reapportionment is over. Seats for the House of Representatives are divided among the states based on their individual populations counted from the Census every 10 years. I know what you’re thinking- this seems like a pretty straight forward process, right? Unfortunately, you'd be wrong. 

So, who exactly gets to draw the lines? In each state the legislature will draw a map, sometimes with the help of a special commission. The governor of a state does have the power to veto newly drawn lines, but this typically does not happen. In an effort to keep redistricting as fair and equal as possible, a growing number of states have begun to create independent commissions made up of citizens rather than politicians.  

The reason some of these new citizen-led commissions are popping up is because redistricting and reapportionment have historically been used to try and suppress minority voices through a process called gerrymandering, which refers to the redrawing of voting district lines with the intention to discriminate, favor a party, or maintain the current status of the district. Here in Texas, the issue of gerrymandering has come up year after year as the state continues to try and keep party lines where they are. 

With the Census officially ending last year, the legislature has until the end of this legislative session (May 31, 2021) to redraw state legislative lines. This is where your voice matters! If you want to get involved, contact your state legislatures to discuss this year's redistricting plans or participate in local community mapping events. 


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.


Thank You For Your Support!

13 newsletter issues and 9 months later, we‘re so grateful to all our Civic Notes subscribers for their unwavering support! When the Digital Committee was thinking of ways TX Votes could expand its mission of civic engagement and voter education, we thought a bi-weekly newsletter would be a great way to highlight civic topics, news, and opportunities. We created every section of our newsletter from scratch, and we’re so happy our subscribers found our newsletter to be informative and useful.

We promise TX Votes’ Digital Committee will be back in the Fall with more amazing civic content! We wish you a great summer break!

- Anjitha Nair (Committee Senior Chair), Asha Ayyar (Junior Chair), and the entire Digital Committee of TX Votes


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If you would like to support TX Votes and the civic engagement work we do, you can donate here! Thank you!