Author Archives: Edwin Ortiz

Tips for voting in the 2018 Texas primary election

The 2018 primary elections are around the corner! Do you have what you need?

This election is your chance to take control of the issues that matter most to you and your family. As registered voters, each and every one of us has a say in determining our future, so let’s seize the moment. Before you head out to the polls, do your homework by reviewing these quick tips.

When and where can I vote early?  

Early voting in the primaries runs from Feb. 20 through March 2, 2018. During early voting, voters may vote at any location within their county. Polling locations and hours are determined at the local level. To find early voting locations and hours in your district, Visit the Texas Secretary of State’s “Am I Registered” website and enter some general information about yourself in order to verify your registration status, find early voting locations, and more. You can also check your local newspaper or call your local voter registrar’s office to find early voting locations and hours in your area.

What if I wait until Election Day to go vote?  

Primary Election Day is March 6, 2018. Most polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. that day. You must vote in your assigned precinct on election day unless your county is participating in the Countywide Polling Place Program, which allows voters to cast their vote at any precinct in their county, even on the day of an election. Check your county clerk’s office or website to find out if they are participating in the program.

What’s on the ballot?  

Use our website to find out which candidates are running for Texas legislative or State Board of Education seats in your area. Our candidate profiles will help you learn more about the individuals running for Texas State House, Texas State Senate, Governor, and Lieutenant Governor before you head out to the polls. ATPE has compiled incumbents’ voting records, links to their campaign sites, responses to ATPE’s candidate survey about education issues, and more to help you determine which candidates are likely to support public education. You can also learn about non-binding propositions that the Republican and Democratic parties have placed on their respective primary ballots to shape each party’s official platform on education and other issues.

What form of ID will I need to show in order to vote?   

You must show a valid photo ID before you get your chance to vote. Acceptable forms of ID include but are not limited to a valid Texas driver’s license, an Election Identification Certificate (EIC) issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety, a Texas concealed handgun license, a Texas personal identification card, a U.S. citizenship certificate that includes a personal photo, U.S. military ID card, or a U.S. passport.

Can I use my cell phone when I go into the voting booth?

No. Some ATPE members have asked us if they can refer to notes stored on their cell phones when voting. Voters are allowed to bring in a printed voter’s guide or notes on paper, but cell phone use is not allowed. We encourage voters to use a website such as, sponsored by the League of Women Voters to create and print out a customized sample ballot that you can take with you inside the voting booth.

State law also prohibits anyone from taking a picture inside a polling place, but you can take cell phone photos once you are 100 feet outside of the polling area. We encourage everyone to snap a selfie with your “I Voted” sticker and share it with family and friends on social media to remind them to go vote in this important primary election.

Send a reminder to family and friends!

Here’s my challenge to you. When you’re at home, take a couple of minutes to personally call or text five friends or family members in the coming days. Encourage them to vote in the upcoming primary elections, which is where most of Texas’s contested races will be decided this year. Please be sure to remind them about the importance of voting and why you are supporting candidates who support public education. Also, be sure to let them know about our resources here on Your vote is your voice!

ATPE’s lobby team out on the road

The ATPE Governmental Relations team is busy traveling across the state to visit with our members!

ATPE’s lobbyists are on the road this fall sharing legislative updates and previews of the 2018 elections. We’d love to see you at an ATPE region meeting, such as those happening this weekend in Regions 12 and 14. We’ve already visited with ATPE members in Regions 13, 19, and 20 this past week, and we’re looking forward to seeing more of you in the weeks and months to come.

The 2018 primary elections are just around the corner and educators are getting fired up! As we have reported extensively here on Teach the Vote, there was a clear and direct assault on our public education system during the 2017 legislative session and the special session that followed. ATPE fought hard against bills to slash local control, take away educators’ rights, and drain money from our public schools by sending it to unregulated private schools. But there were also valiant efforts by some legislators to stand up for our public schools, students, and educators. Regional visits by our ATPE Governmental Relations staff are a great opportunity for you to chat with your ATPE lobbyists and hear more about these legislative battles of the recent past and future, as well as what’s at stake during the upcoming 2018 elections.

Below are some of the meetings we’ll be attending this weekend. We’ve also been invited to speak at Regions 4, 9, and 16 next month, so check with your local unit president or visit the ATPE region’s website for more information about those events. We’re excited and looking forward to seeing you there!

Region 12 ATPE Meeting:

  • Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017, Waco, TX
  • Region 12 website

Region 14 ATPE Meeting:

  • Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017, Abilene, TX
  • Region 14 website

Coalition of Reading and English Supervisors of Texas (CREST) 2017 Fall Conference:

    • The Coalition of Reading and English Supervisors of Texas is holding a conference on September 24-25, 2017, at the Hilton Austin Airport. ATPE Governmental Relations Director Jennifer Canaday and Lobbyist Mark Wiggins will be providing CREST members with a legislative update on September 25. We have ATPE members who are also part of this great organization, so we look forward to seeing them and other educators there. Find more information about the CREST conference here.
ATPE L obbyist Monty Exter joined Region 13 ATPE members at their meeting in Driftwood.

ATPE Lobbyist Monty Exter joined Region 13 ATPE members and guests at their meeting in Driftwood, Texas.

ATPE Lobbyist Mark Wiggins visited Region 19 ATPE members in El Paso.

ATPE Lobbyist Mark Wiggins visited Region 19 ATPE members in El Paso.


Subcommittee looks at funding for education programs in Texas

Dollar fanOn Wednesday, Aug. 24, the Texas House Appropriations Subcommittee on Article III, which covers education aspects of the state budget, held a public hearing in Austin. The focus of this first meeting on interim charge 13 was to discuss specific public education programs that are funded outside the Foundation School Program (FSP) and administered by the Texas Education Agency (TEA). The committee is tasked with making recommendations that increase, decrease, or eliminate programs based on measurable performance and effectiveness.

The vast majority of all education funding dollars in Texas are sent to school districts through the FSP. Tens of billions of dollars every year are distributed based on school district characteristics and the student population. Outside of the FSP, there are special programs that are funded as individual line items in the state budget. Before the massive budget reduction in 2011, there were significant projects funded at hundreds of millions of dollars apiece, such as the Student Success Initiative and the state educator incentive pay program known as DATE. Since that time, these programs are fewer and have been funded at a much lower level.

These types of interim meetings take place every two years as agencies are submitting their budget requests to the state and the appropriating committees, House Appropriations and Senate Finance, prepare for lengthy, in-depth hearings while the two-year state budget is created. There were no serious policy proposals or shifts that came from Wednesday’s meeting; however, what was discussed was that there are very important programs funded at relatively low levels that depend on an ongoing commitment from the state. These include programs such as Communities in Schools, money for newly constructed educational facilities, and funding for accelerated instruction of at-risk students. The committee seemed to be in agreement that all of these initiatives play crucial roles in meeting the many challenges facing our public school population. The question going forward will be whether there is broad political will to make the necessary investments in our state’s public education system.

Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Trent Ashby (R-Lufkin) mentioned that that the House Appropriations Committee and House Public Education Committee will hold a joint meeting to take a closer look into school finance sometime next month. ATPE will cover that hearing and provide updates for Teach the Vote.

Video of the full subcommittee hearing can be viewed here.

Voters approve all nine proposed constitutional amendments

Texas voters overwhelmingly approved all nine constitutional amendments Tuesday, including the much discussed amendment to finance priority projects from the state water plan. See the election results here.

Bond propositions and school board elections were also on ballots in various communities throughout the state. Preliminary analysis of election results show that the majority of bond propositions seem to have passed, indicating that the public supports increased investments for education.

The special election for House District 50 ended with no candidate receiving 50 percent of the vote; a runoff between top vote getting candidates Mike VanDeWalle (R) and Celia Israel (D) will be held in early 2014.

Current chair of the State Board of Education reappointed

Gov. Rick Perry has reappointed Barbara Cargill as chair of the State Board of Education for a two-year term. Chairwoman Cargill is a former educator and has served as chair since her appointment in July 2011. Cargill received a bachelor’s degree from Baylor University and a master’s degree in science education from the Texas Woman’s University. Although the governor has made this appointment, it is not yet set in stone. Cargill will need to be confirmed by the Texas Senate before taking the reins once again at the State Board of Education.