"Thank you for calling the Battleground Texas Voter Protection Hotline. How may I help you?"
With this friendly greeting, our Voter Protection volunteers - specially trained lawyers and law students - answered calls on our hotline all day yesterday, helping scores of voters across Texas navigate the voting staff and cast their ballots.
Our phones starting ringing right when the polls opened. Several early reports concerned a closed polling place in the Montrose neighborhood of Houston (the election judge reportedly took a wrong turn on the way to the polls). This likely inadvertent mistake had a sizable impact on the democratic process in our country's fourth largest city: No one voted at Grace Lutheran Church until 7:45am. According to several eyewitnesses, numerous voters left without voting - despite Houston's nail biter of a mayoral race and the nationally watched effort to repeal the city's anti-discrimination law.
Thank to our efforts, county election officials were alerted to the problem in Montrose within minutes and the problem was ultimately resolved. But, as described in our analysis of the 2014 election, reports of disorganized polling places are far too common. There's no excuse for Harris County, and others, to fail to take commonsense steps to ensure that election workers are properly trained, supervised and on time to work.
Most callers asked about their registration status and where they could vote. They often wondered why voting wasn't easier in Texas. One gentleman said he felt like he was back in Alabama, decades ago. In contract, callers from counties like Fort Bend and Travis praised the adoption of county-wide vote centers, while allow eligible voters to cast their ballot at any polling place in the county.
Overall, this Election Day reinforced the valuable service our hotline provides to voters, many of whom took the time to take our volunteers before ending the call. One said that he was skeptical at first when a friend told him to cal 1-844-TXVOTES, but he was pleasantly surprised by how much the team was able to help.
In response to all of these thanks, our volunteers responded: "It's our pleasure. Thank you for calling and happy voting!" And today we are back to work, preparing for the next Election Day.
October 29, 2015
Questions about voting? Call us at 1-844-TXVOTES.
By Vanessa Garza, student at University of Texas School of Law and Voter Protection Intern
As this November’s Election Day nears, you may have some questions about the electoral process. Where do I go to vote? What do I need to bring? When do the polls open? You need answers to questions like these to ensure that you can cast a ballot that counts. An electorate that knows the in’s and out’s of the voting process is necessary for the health of Texas’ democracy.
That’s why Battleground Texas’ Voter Protection Hotline is so important. Voters can call 1-844-TXVOTES at any time to ask questions about voting or to report any problems that arise. Usually, the hotline is answered by a voicemail system and calls are returned within a few hours by a trained Battleground Texas staff member or legal volunteer, in English or Spanish. On Election Day, the hotline is live and calls are answered immediately from 7:00am to 7:00pm Battleground Texas records all of the calls in a database, so that election law experts can quickly spot any problematic trends.
As a Voter Protection intern (and specially trained volunteer), I have already provided answers to several voters this election cycle. I love helping my fellow Texans in this way, ensuring that they receive answers to their questions without having to drudge through confusing websites – possibly getting bad or outdated information. In addition, I know that I'm doing my part to make the overall process better: By understanding and tracking each voter's concerns, I am well equipped to answer similar questions from others. And, of course, I'm helping Battleground Texas monitor voting throughout the state.
The Hotline will be ringing constantly during early voting and on Election Day. I can’t wait to hear what the next call with bring!
September 17, 2015
Today, Jenn Brown, Executive Director of Battleground Texas sent this email to our list:
I have some big news.
Today, we're announcing key changes at Battleground Texas -- strategic shifts that will allow us to expand on the work of the last two and a half years.
First, we have a brand-new rockstar Advisory Board. I normally wouldn't throw a list of names at you, but this is a pretty amazing group:
Naomi Aberly, Jeremy Bird, former Dallas Mayor and Ambassador Ron Kirk, Congressman Joaquín Castro, community leader Eric D. Johnson, Austin Ligon, Brownsville Mayor Tony Martinez, volunteer leader Jennifer Longoria, labor leader Marvin Ragsdale, Eddy Morales, Amber Mostyn, Carrin Mauritz Patman, Carrin F. Patman, Kirk Rudy, and Lynda Tran.
After two and a half years as Executive Director, I'll be transitioning to Board Chair.
We're also bringing on new staff.
El Paso native Oscar Silva, Latino Vote Director in North Carolina in 2012, is our new Political Director. Luis Cázares, Regional Field Director in the TX-23rd U.S. congressional district in 2014, will serve as San Antonio Coordinator. And Tyler Keen, a field organizer in East Texas, will join the team as Dallas Coordinator. Training Director Priscila Martinez is moving into a new role as Field Director.
These changes are exciting. We're recommitting to the mission to turn Texas into a battleground state, and right now that means adjusting strategy, leadership, and capacity.
We founded Battleground Texas in 2013 to empower millions of Texans who are not being heard by leaders in Austin or D.C. In our first two years, we registered nearly 100,000 Texas voters, trained and deployed nearly 35,000 volunteers, and established Texas' first dedicated Voter Protection Hotline.
That wasn't enough. There's a lot more work to do.
This year, we're holding volunteer-led regional councils across Texas, registering thousands of voters, and training progressive Texans of color through the Texas Future Leadership Program. This month, we pushed the state to make procedural changes to help more eligible voters can exercise their right at the ballot box.
This movement is made up of individuals like you who know our democracy and policies and leaders are stronger when more people are involved -- so I want to hear from you.
Write to email@example.com to share your hopes, questions, and comments about the future of Battleground Texas.
Every Texan should get an equal chance to weigh in on who represents them, and every candidate for national office should have to compete for Texas' votes.
It's critical that we continue to organize until that happens.
Lots more to come. In the meantime, thanks so much for your support and adding your voice, time, donations, and energy. I can't wait to see what we do next.