Mark Your Calendars: 13 March for Precinct Conventions
The Green Parties of Harris County and Texas urge progressive voters in Texas not to vote in the Republican or Democratic primary elections in March. Voting in either primary disqualifies you from signing the Green Party's ballot access petition.
Instead, on the following Tuesday (13 March), come to your county's night of Precinct Conventions. Bring your voter registration card. There you can sign the petition and pick up more sheets for your friends to sign.
Unlike recent years, when we had a ballot line, GPTX has only a small number of candidates who filed to run this year. On the statewide ballot we hope to have
- Jan Richards for Governor
- Jamar Osborne for Attorney General
- George Reiter for Railroad Commission
(The candidates' websites are not yet ready.)
Visit the space between now and March, or watch our Facebook page, for more information on how you can be part of this year's Green Revolution, including locations for Precinct and County Conventions.
Ballot Access Basics
In 2016, the Green Party of Texas had no candidate for statewide office receive the necessary 5% of the vote to retain a ballot line for the 2018 election. We came close: Martina Salinas took 3.26% in the race for a Railroad Commission seat, the best showing ever for a Texas Green against both Republican and Democratic opposition. (In the elections of 2000, '10, '12, and '14, Greens who ran with no Democratic opponent have garnered 6-10% in statewide races.)
Per the Texas Election Code, that means that the Party must collect a large number of signatures in order to appear on the 2018 ballot. The number of signatures required is over 47,000, equal the 1% of the total votes cast in the last gubernatorial election (2014).
In order to be valid, a signature must be gathered in the 75 days beginning 13 March from:
- a registered Texas voter
- who did not vote in any primary election this year
- and did not sign any other party's petition or attend any other party's conventions.
Those who gather signatures need not meet these criteria. They need only be of legal age to sign their petition sheets. Each petition sheet has space for 10 signatures. A signature line contains places for the voter's full name, street address, home county, birthdate, and (optionally) voter registration number.
All petition sheets submitted to the state must be signed by the signature collector in the presence of a Notary Public. The actual deadline for submitting petition sheets to the Secretary of State's office is the Tuesday following Memorial Day, or 29 May 2018.
For more detailed information about the petition drive, see this page at txgreens.org.
Ballot Access Realities and Hopes
Let's be honest about this: Given the political climate and the current state of the Party in Texas, the prognosis for success in 2018 is not great. GPTX has undertaken five ballot access drives. It was successful in 2000 and 2010, but fell short in 2004, '06, and '08.
Even in a state where 85% of voters skip the primaries, finding willing signatories can be difficult. People who desperately want a third option on the ballot may still have trouble thinking beyond the two-party paradigm. They may also be reluctant to give anybody their addresses for fear of being sold to mailing lists.
Typically, the number of signatures gathered should exceed the requirement by 50%. Historically, about one-third of signatures collected in these drives do not satisfy all the criteria.
Even if the Greens get their ballot line back, at least one candidate must top 5% to keep the party going in 2020. However, difficult though it may be...
...with enough volunteers and enough enthusiasm, this is entirely feasible!
We are banking on the petition drive to revive the People Power that has energized GPTX in years past.
We know that a majority of American voters (yourself included?) are fed up with the corporate parties and want something different on the ballot.
Even if 2018's drive does not succeed, we can generate camaraderie and have fun spreading the word about the Green Party's platform and priorities: People, Planet, and Peace over Profit. We can also look upon this year's drive as a rehearsal for 2020, when the stakes will be higher.
Libertarian Competition: Mixed Blessing
The Libertarian Party did manage a 5% showing in 2016, so their candidates will appear on the ballot this year without having to petition. That is good news and bad news for the Greens:
- good news because that makes one fewer petition drive competing for signatures, but
- bad news because voters who just want something other than Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum already have a third Tweedle to vote for.
While the Greens share some policy positions with the Libertarians—e.g., big decreases in military expenditures, legalizing cannabis—we also have some very different views on economics and the environment. If you are concerned about climate disruption and its effects, remember that the Green Party is the only US party of any size with a plan to follow the recommendations of scientists and phase out fossil fuels.
Since Libertarians will not need to collect signatures, and they will not have a primary, Libertarians who do not attend their party's conventions may sign the Green petition. Furthermore, they can collect signatures to get more choices on the Texas ballot. So if you have Libertarian friends, get them involved!