AUSTIN (Nexstar) — With the Texas Democratic primary election less than one month away, Texas Democrats are worried results may not be available on election day, March 3, much like what happened in Iowa earlier this week.
The Texas Secretary of State’s office signaled to the Texas Democratic Party on Jan. 23 officials may not have results on election night because of a revamped reporting system according to the Texas Tribune.
The Texas Secretary of State’s office sent an email to the Tribune Wednesday saying “any allegations that delegate allocations will not be reported on election night are categorically false.”
“I think what the Secretary of State did was try to manage expectations to say, ‘hey, this is a big state, it’s a complicated process,” said Ed Espinoza, executive director for Progress Texas. But he said state Democrats pushed back to get the assurance that results will come in on time.
“I think that they probably will get it worked out but everybody’s on pins and needles right now,” Espinoza said.
Texas will send 262 delegates — the third-most in the nation — to the Democratic National Convention. Of those, 228 delegates will be decided by the vote in the March 3rd primary. How those delegates are distributed throughout the state and awarded to presidential candidates is often misunderstood by voters.
The Texas Democratic Party distributes the 262 delegates in three ways:
District Level Delegates
The majority of national delegates in Texas are district level delegates. Texas uses its 31 State Senate districts to divide up 149 district level delegates, unlike congressional districts in most other states.
Candidates must receive at least 15% of the vote in a district to be eligible to receive these delegates. Delegates are divided based on whichever candidate has the higher percentage over 15%. The number of delegates per district is based on previous Democratic turnout rates.
For example, Senate District 14, which includes Austin, received 10 delegates, the most of any district in the state. Espinoza said the district receives the most delegates because Democratic turnout rate is higher than other districts.
“It is a seemingly long and winding road, but it’s all in the name of trying to be as fair and representative as possible to the Democratic primary voters.”
49 delegates At-Large and 30 Pledged Elected and Party Officials will be divided among candidates who receive more than 15% of votes statewide. Like district level delegates, the larger the percentage of votes past 15%, the more delegates a candidate will receive.
The remaining 34 delegates are “automatic delegates.” These delegates are not up for grabs on election day. They will attend the Democratic National Convention, and will only vote if the party is unable to select a nominee by majority on the first count. These delegates can vote for whichever candidate they like.
Division over State of the Union address
President Donald Trump gave his State of the Union address Tuesday. The response to his speech largely fell along party lines. Democrats sat and rarely clapped. Republicans frequently stood and cheered the President. Members of the Texas delegation mirrored that divide.
“He talked about a lot of things that just show America is on a path to continued greatness, and it’s because of the Trump administration,” said Rep. Roger Williams, a Republican who represents Texas Congressional District 25.
El Paso Democratic Congresswoman Veronica Escobar had a different view. She gave the party’s Spanish-language response to the address. Escobar spoke out against the President’s immigration policies.
“From attacks against Dreamers, family separation, the deaths of migrant children, to the Remain in Mexico policy that sends asylum seekers into dangerous situations, these are policies none of us ever imagined would happen in America,” Escobar said in her response.
Sloan highlights housing in District 25 race
The issues of homelessness and affordable housing have been hot topics here in Austin the past couple of months, and one local candidate, Democratic-Socialist Heidi Sloan, is looking to tackle these issues in Congress.
Sloan, who is running for Congress in District 25, is a former public school teacher who was first inspired to become politically active after working as a farmer at Community First! Village, a housing community developed by Mobile Loaves and Fishes, with the goal of providing affordable, permanent housing and a supportive community to men and women working their way out of chronic homelessness.
“I see at the federal level, how amendments like the Faircloth amendment and other laws that prevent us in investing in public housing have really limited what we can do at the state and the local levels. And so Congress is the opportunity to affect housing change across this country,” Sloan said.
In addition to housing, Sloan says she would like to see Congress make more efforts to address climate change, beginning with passing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal Resolution.
Sloan is also a supporter of single-payer, universal healthcare, and in particular, the Medicare for All Act of 2019. “Medicare for All is politically viable. It’s also very practical. It will across the board save us money in the United States. And it will save families money as well,” Sloan says.
Next month, Sloan is set to run against Julie Oliver for the Democratic nomination. Oliver, who was the Democratic nominee in 2018, previously lost to the incumbent, Republican Representative Roger Williams, by 8.9 percentage points.
Poll highlights concerns over housing costs
The Texas Lyceum recently released its new, statewide “Housing Affordability in Texas” poll, and the results show Texans are becoming increasingly concerned with affordable housing and homelessness.
According to Joshua Blank, a research director with The Texas Politics Project who helped oversee the new Lyceum poll, the goal of the poll was to figure out how Texans really feel about housing and affordability.
According to the results, almost half of Texans say it is difficult for them to find affordable housing in the area in which they live.
Similarly, almost half of Texans believe they are spending too much of their income on housing, although the number increases among renters to sixty-four percent, and African Americans and Hispanics were more likely to say they are spending too much on housing, regardless of being a renter or homeowner.
The poll shows almost half of Texans believe homelessness is an issue in their local communities, and while the poll did show homelessness to be perceived more of a problem in urban areas, there was still a significant concern in both suburban and rural areas.
“That tells us… that homelessness is not just a city problem in Texas,” Blank says.
The full results and methodology for the poll can be seen here.