The start of each new year, filled with excitement and optimism, provides a handy opportunity to shed bad habits or commit to positive change. ATPE hopes that your New Year’s resolutions include taking an active role in the 2012 elections, particularly during the primary elections.
You need only look back at the 82nd Legislature to see what kind of impact the people you elect as representatives can have on your profession and livelihood. When the session ended in July, the Legislature had cut more than $5.4 billion in public education funding from the state budget, which in turn resulted in massive losses in education programs and of educator jobs.
Your vote is your biggest bargaining chip in determining your future, and it might be at its highest value during the primaries. As a refresher: Primary elections are contests between candidates from the same party. The winner of the primary election goes on to represent the party on the general election ballot in November. This year, however, many legislative and State Board of Education (SBOE) candidates will be facing no general election opponent, so the primary will decide who wins the office. Furthermore, in districts with contested general elections, voting in the primary might be the best opportunity to unseat candidates or officeholders who do not support public education by voting for their primary opponents. (The SBOE primaries are especially critical for Texas public educators in this regard.) Either way, it’s vital that educators turn out to support pro-public education candidates.
Of course, determining which candidates support public education can be difficult; that’s where ATPE comes in. Every election cycle ATPE sends surveys to all Texas legislative and State Board of Education candidates to find out where they stand on important education issues. Based on their responses, as well as voting records and other public information, ATPE prepares fliers that compare the candidates in select contested races side-by-side. The fliers and candidate survey responses will be available to members in February.
ATPE will also soon be launching a new website dedicated to providing public education-related information on candidates; more information on the website is forthcoming. In the meantime, there are other resources currently available that you can use to learn more about the elections and candidates.
The following websites contain information on the candidates and their party platforms, including links to many of the individual candidate’s websites:
The Texas Secretary of State’s website contains a wealth of information on everything from polling places and county registrars to important dates and special links.
The League of Women Voters has created Vote411.org to serve as a one-stop shop for election information.
Recent court battles over redistricting are have resulted in the Texas primaries being pushed back to April 3. ATPE encourages educators to vote in all elections. To vote in any election, you must be registered to vote at least 30 days prior to any election day. This means that if you are going to vote in the April 3 primary elections, you must be registered to vote no later than March 5. You can find an online registration form at www.votexas.org/register_to_vote.html. If you are already registered, you don’t have to register unless you have moved or your name has changed.)
Mark these important dates to remember for the upcoming primary election season on your calendars now:
- March 5—Last day to register to vote.
- March 19—First day of early voting.
- March 30—Last day of early voting.
- April 3—Primary election day.
Questions? Contact ATPE Governmental Relations.