Mark your calendars—physical, mental, and electronic—for March 2018. It's gonna be yuuuuuge.
As you might know from reading this blog, the Green Party of Texas is currently not an officially recognized political party. GPTX will need to earn restoration to the ranks of political parties, because no Green candidate in Texas won 5% of the vote in a statewide race last year. That means a petition drive is in the offing, the Greens' first such drive since 2010.
The current plan is to avoid chasing down the necessary 46,484 valid signatures on petition sheets in the statutory 75-day window. Instead, we hope to convincing a large number of Green voters to attend precinct conventions in March 2018. The main trick will be informing thousands of voters in Texas just how important this is and getting them to show up.
Important, you say? It seems as if this would be important only to the operatives within the Green Party of Texas. GPTX currently consists of a few hundred disaffected lefties who bug baristas about whether the coffee they serve is GMO-free, right?
Here's the rub from the Green and progressive perspective: Both parties take most of their campaign funds and their marching orders from the wealthiest 1% (or really a mere fraction of that 1%). Neither major party serves the interests of the majority on a consistent basis. Rule of, by, and for the 1% is not democracy. That's part of why so many people in the US don't bother to vote.
The elites' interests and investments lie mainly in policies and practices that perpetuate and exacerbate climate change; most people want a habitable planet to inhabit. In a sane world, and under a just system, the people who want to halt climate change (and racism and misogyny and economic injustice and and and) would be setting the policies, through representatives that actually represent them.
The Green Party could be the vehicle to bring about that desperately needed change, if only the 1% and their media henchpersons would stop ignoring or belittling it.
Another Kind of 1%
As you might also know from reading this blog, or from having any connection with a Green Party insider, the number of signatures required represents 1% of the total vote in the last gubernatorial race, 4,648,358. These signatures must come from voters registered in Texas who did not vote in any other party's primary election or sign any other party's petition. Voters who sign in at a precinct convention are deemed to have effectively signed the petition.
The state does not require signatories on ballot-access petitions to whip out a voter registration card in order to prove their bona fides. A great number of signatures may contain inaccurate information or violate one of the criteria. Thus, one of the parties has a right to challenge the petitions after they are turned in some time around Memorial Day. In order to assure the required number of valid signatures,
The 2018 primary elections will most likely take place on 6 March. For non-primary parties like the Libertarians and party wanna-bes like the Greens, the precinct conventions will probably happen on the following Tuesday evening, the 13th. In most counties, all precinct conventions will occur at a central location within their respective counties.
Here are some other numbers of interest beyond the aforementioned 46,484 (mostly from the Secretary of State's website):
- 71,558: the number of votes tallied for the Green presidential ticket of Jill Stein and Ajamu Baraka in November 2016.
- 232,646: votes tallied for Rudy Muñoz, Green candidate for State Supreme Court, in November 2016, which broke the old numeric and percentage record for a Green candidate in a four-way race in Texas, but was in turn broken by...
- 287,105: votes tallied for Martina Salinas, Green candidate for Railroad Commission, in November 2016.
- 38,504: votes recorded for Salinas in Harris County alone last November.
- 164,956: votes recorded for Salinas in Texas's 12 most populous counties (Harris, Dallas, Tarrant, Bexar, Travis, Collin, Denton, Fort Bend, Montgomery, Williamson, El Paso, and Hidalgo).
- 28.2%: the percentage of Salinas voters in those 12 counties who would need to show up at the conventions in order to obviate gathering signatures (about 2 of every 7).
- 0: the number of Texas counties in which Salinas did not receive any votes.
- 1,891,889: the number of combined votes cast for governor in the major-party primaries in 2014.
- 9,481,732: the approximate number of registered voters who did not vote in the 2014 primaries.
- 0.5%: the approximate percentage of non-primary voters who would need to sign the petition in order to get the Greens on the ballot, unless turnout improves remarkably over the pitiful figures in 2014. Based on that, you'd think finding 47,000 willing signatories would be a piece of cake, but as 2004, 2006, and 2008 proved, it's absurdly difficult; as 2010 proved, success can be absurdly expensive.
Most of the top 12 counties have Green Party organizations—or will soon.
A lot can happen between now and 2018 that could change pro-Green sentiment one way or the other in Texas. The Democratic Party may actually nominate a firmly progressive candidate for governor or US Senate. But, as of a few months ago, we know that at least a quarter-million voters in this state have a favorable impression of the Green Party, even if the majority of them voted for Hillary Clinton to avoid a Trumpa-Loompa presidency (or because they didn't care much for Jill Stein). Our job for the next year is to keep thumping the woodwork until a sufficient quantity of these folks make themselves known.
The woodwork-thumping must consist of our web presence, effective social media, and the time-tested method of making phone calls to voters.
If the thumping leads to getting all the signatures we need on Precinct Convention Day...ah, that will be literally awesome. If they show up and bring their voter registration cards, no party can challenge that. Even getting, say, 10,000 votes to the precincts means each of them will need to collect only a handful of signatures.