The good news is that you have not entirely missed the caucuses. We're going into extra time Saturday morning.
Due to last night's threatening weather, and the difficulties it created for anyone traveling from the Outer Limits of Harris County, we have added an hour just before Saturday's Harris County Convention. It all happens at Trinity Episcopal Church, 1015 Holman.
So, Saturday 12 March looks like this:
- Precinct Caucuses at 11 am
- County Convention at 12 m
Bring your voter registration card if you have one, and maybe something to snack or sip on. We cannot predict how long the County Convention will last, but most likely it will conclude by 3 pm. You can then move on to whatever fun activities you had planned for Saturday afternoon or evening.
Last night, 19 Harris County Greens participated in the caucusing. Trinity Church, our home for general meetings the last two years, was closed due to the weather; we moved the whole calabash to Midtown Bar & Grill, where our Steering Committee and other subsets of the HCGP meet to conduct business.
The best news of the night was that we had some new faces present, along with plenty of old-timers. Three members of a family drove in from Baytown, new to HCGP. We had one brave soul who rode his bicycle from Third Ward near UH; the rain held off and allowed him to get home relatively unsoaked. I also had the pleasure of meeting James Partsch-Galvan, our candidate for Congress in District 29.
Second-best news by a narrow margin: Steering Committee Member At-Large Don "Sketch" Palmer did an amazing job of facilitating the caucus process.
The main purpose of precinct caucuses is to cast votes for the party's presidential nominee, as well as the legislative and judicial offices for which we are respectively eligible to vote. This is just the first step in the process. Minor parties generally do not host primary elections because primaries are wicked expensive.
The only contested race is for president: Five recognized candidates appear on the ballot, in addition to the perennial candidate None of the Above. For that race, Approval Voting is used, so attendees may vote for any and all candidates whom they consider a worthy nominee.
The other races have only one human candidate, plus the omnipresent NotA. To refresh your memory, here is the list of Green candidates for the entire state. Statewide, we have candidates for Texas Railroad Commissioner and five statewide judicial spots. We also have candidates for some Congressional seats, some state legislative seats, a seat on the State Board of Education, and Harris County Tax Assessor-Collector.
Last night, most of us were the sole residents of our respective precincts in attendance, so most of us also served as temporary precinct chairs. Thus we had the responsibility of recording our own votes for the official tally, as well as those of any spouses, partners, housemates, or neighbors who showed up.
We all had the option of registering as delegates to Saturday's County Convention.
What Will Happen at the County Convention?
The County Convention's main purpose is the selection of delegates for the State Convention, which will select delegates for the national. This year's GPTX Convention will happen the weekend of 9 April, at a still-undetermined venue in Bexar County (Greater San Antonio). As we have mentioned previously, this year's Green Party US Presidential Nominating Convention will take place at the University of Houston in August.
Now it gets complicated. There is a reason most voters do not have the guts or attention span for political work.
The County Convention also ratifies the precinct delegates' votes for nominees for all positions whose jurisdiction lies wholly within the county. For Harris County, these positions include:
- US House Districts 2, 7, 18, and 29
- State Senate Districts 6, 7, and 15
- all 24 State House districts
- State Board of Education District 6
- all Harris County executive offices and judgeships
- Harris County Commissioners Court
All districted positions that do not lie entirely within the county gets their own conventions on 19 March to nominate their candidates...or not, if the delegates prefer. The County Convention will determine which District Conventions are necessary—e.g., US House Districts 9 and 36.
Depending on the year, delegates to a county convention may also introduce state platform amendments, resolutions, or changes to the state party's bylaws. The state sets restrictions on when a party may amend its bylaws or platform; right now, I don't care to look up which years we do what.
- The Platform is meant to include broad statements of the party's policy positions. Amendments may change existing language to bring it up to date, or add positions on entirely new issues. It could be as general as, "The Green Party of Texas opposes US participation in any war."
- Resolutions address much more specific issues—e.g., "The Green Party of Texas opposes US participation in that particular war."
- Bylaws, required of any organization registered with the state, determine how the party governs itself. They include the party's purpose, organizational structure, and ways of disciplining or removing members who misbehave to the detriment of the party.