A political reform bill has been pre-filed in Texas that encourages citizen participation on the grassroots level by posting information at primary polling locations about local party conventions.
The move should help demystify the political convention process without violating laws that prohibit electioneering inside a polling place. It would also help to clear any vision of “rigged” political conventions and delegates being a bunch of older, white, political insiders. After voting on election day, people need to just show up on election night at the precinct convention where they could get information about the senate district and state conventions.
The author of the bill, Senator Van Taylor (R-Plano) says “[t]his is a bipartisan measure to promote civil engagement without endangering the important safeguards that keep the voting booth free of campaign material.”
If passed, Texas Senate Bill 375, dubbed the “Grassroots Involvement Act,” would amend the Texas Election Code to provide that the term “Electioneering” “does not include the distribution of a notice of a party convention authorized under Section 172.1114.”
It would add Section 172.1114, titled “DISTRIBUTION OF NOTICE OF CONVENTIONS” and would provide:
(a) A political party may prepare a notice not larger than letter-sized for distribution to each voter participating in the party’s primary election at the time the voter is accepted for voting by personal appearance.
(b) The notice may include:
(1) information describing the party ’s convention process;
(2) information detailing the time and place of the party ’s first level convention process;
(3) contact information for the county and state political parties; and
(4) website links for information and registration for party conventions.
(c) The state chair of a political party shall prescribe a form for a notice approved by the secretary of state that may be used in any county.
(d) A county chair of a political party that elects to distribute a notice prepared under this section shall supply a notice to the authority conducting the election not later than the 45th day before the date early voting by personal appearance begins.
(e) The secretary of state shall prescribe procedures and adopt rules as necessary to implement this section.
Harris County Clerk Stan Stanart told Breitbart Texas, “This bill is actually needed. The primary elections are for the parties to elect their candidates and the convention process is an important part of the Parties political process.”
The county clerk of Texas’ largest county in size of population added, “I wanted to provide a double-sided card in the last primary at the polling locations with basic information about the Party’s convention and website but discovered I could not due to the existing Texas Election Code. One side would have been for the Democratic Party and the other side would have been for the Republican Party. If the State of Texas is going to have a primary process, then notifying the electorate about the Party’s conventions is the right thing to do.”
Senator Taylor said of the bill, “Government works best when the people are engaged and change is influenced from the ground up. All too often people don’t participate in local conventions simply because they do not have the details on when and where to meet. Let’s face it, people are busy and this is a commonsense, bipartisan solution to help disseminate information to voters on how they can become more involved in the policy decisions facing our state and nation.”
The act would be effective immediately upon its passage if it receives a vote of two-third of all the members elected to each house, or if not immediately effective – September 1, 2017.
A version of this bill, H.B. 3902, was filed during the 2015 84th Legislative session by Representative Hubert Vo (D-Houston).