Why I’m voting for Sarah Eckhardt, too. (Original post by Jessica W. Luther)

Today I read an excellent post by Jessica Luther about the race for Travis County Judge and the upcoming March 4 primary. The Democratic candidates for Travis County Judge, Andy Brown and Sarah Eckhardt, are both fairly well-known political figures in Austin. I have met them both at numerous events around town, and they are both respected members of the progressive community.

Deciding who to support, especially publicly, has been difficult. How do you pick a favorite between two people you like? And what do you do when you reach a decision that will likely be unpopular with even more people you like? It’s not easy to criticize people you respect, but in this case I think it’s more important to come out in support of the best person for the job than to avoid some anxiety-inducing social situations. This is a democratic election for an influential position in local government, and it shouldn’t be a popularity contest.

Ultimately, Andy Brown is  is better funded and has key endorsements from plenty of Austin-area progressive groups. He seems to be the popular choice among Travis County politicos. I think Andy is a talented campaigner and skillful activist,  but Sarah is an experienced and proven public servant, and I’m voting for her because she is just better qualified for the position. I was planning to write an entire post about the Travis County Judge race, but Jessica W. Luther’s detailed, thorough post perfectly sums up my thoughts on the matter. You can read her original post on her website, and I’ve also posted it below in it’s entirety.

THE DEMOCRATIC PRIMARY FOR TRAVIS COUNTY JUDGE: WHY I’M VOTING FOR SARAH ECKHARDT Continue reading

Get the Facts: Becoming a Volunteer Deputy Registrar

Confused about voter registration rules and how to become a volunteer deputy registrar in Texas? You’re not alone! Information about Texas volunteer deputy registrars (VDRs, for short) is spread out inconsistently across several websites. To simplify things, I’ve compiled everything you need to know about becoming a VDR from official sources far and wide and translated it all into language you don’t need a law degree to understand.

The Basics

What Volunteer Deputy Registers are:

VDRs are volunteers who are authorized by county voter registrars to distribute voter registration applications, help people fill out voter registration applications, and accept completed voter registration applications. In short, they are volunteers who can officially register voters.

Who should become a Volunteer Deputy Registrar:

You should become a VDR if you want to assist people who need help filling out registration applications, review applications to catch mistakes that would prevent registration, and personally ensure completed applications arrive safely at the voter registrar’s office. Legally, only authorized VDRs can handle other people’s completed registration applications.

People who are not VDRs can still hand out blank applications, but they can’t review completed applications or make sure they get submitted. Instead, they have to assume that people will fill out applications correctly and remember to submit them to the voter registrar’s office.

All previous deputy registrar appointments expired December 31, 2012, so even if you were a VDR last year you’ll need to be trained and appointed again before you can start registering voters this election cycle.

Becoming a Volunteer Deputy Registrar

You can become a VDR if you meet a few simple qualifications and attend an official training. After you’ve been trained, county voter registrars can authorize you to register voters in their county as a VDR.

Qualifications 

You’re qualified to become a VDR if you are:

  • eligible to vote in the United States (you’re not required to be registered to vote, just eligible)
  • a Texas resident

AND you have never been convicted of:

  • an offense related to failure to deliver a voter application to the voter registrar
  • identity theft (under Section 32.51 of the Penal Code)

Trainings

Before you can register voters as a VDR you must complete a Secretary of State prescribed  training on Texas voter registration laws. These trainings are scheduled by county voter registrars in each county. Voter registrars should offer at least one training each month, but training schedules vary widely from county to county, and some counties will include additional approved materials in their trainings. You’ll need to contact your county’s voter registrar directly for more specific training information.

The Big Questions

Answers to some of the most confusing questions surrounding volunteer deputy registrars. This is the most recent information as of April 8, 2013, and it’s  all been verified with the office of the Secretary of State. Links to original sources are provided when available.

Can I become a VDR in a county where I’m not a resident?

Yes. VDRs must be residents of the state of Texas, but there is no requirement that deputy registrars be residents of the county where they will be registering voters.

Section 12.006, Election Code

Can I be a VDR in more than one county?

Yes. You just need to be appointed as a VDR by the county voter registrar for each county where you want to register voters.

I’ve already been trained and appointed as a VDR this election cycle. Do I have to go through training again to become a VDR in another county?

No. After you receive the Secretary of State mandated training once, you do not need to be trained on those materials again until your term of appointment expires (on December 31st of even-numbered years). This means that if you’ve been trained and appointed in one county during the current election cycle, you don’t need to undergo the same training again to be a deputy in a different countyInstead, the voter registrar can just confirm that you’ve already completed the training with the previous voter registrar. (Election Advisory No. 2012-04 Sec. 3.3)

The caveat: Some counties include additional materials in their trainings to supplement the Secretary of State’s minimum training standards. If this is the case, you may need to review those materials before registering voters in that county.

Sources

Texas Secretary of State Volunteer Deputy Registrar Guide

The Texas Election Code (Chapter 12) 

Election Advisory No. 2012-04

House Bill 1570

House Bill 2194