Tag Archives: 2020

Texas election roundup: The final tally

Texas has begun canvassing the votes for the 2020 general election, the process by which counties certify the official votes and open the window for any challenges or recounts. This is the tallying process that formalizes the election results. ATPE has posted a complete list of all the unofficial election results for the Texas House, Senate, and State Board of Education here on our blog.

A handful of close state House races could head to recounts. State Rep. Jon Rosenthal (D-Houston) leads Republican challenger Justin Ray by 317 votes out of more than 74,000 cast. State Rep. Vikki Goodwin (D-Austin) leads Republican challenger Justin Berry by 1,324 votes out of more than 134,000. Neither challenger has conceded defeat. Democratic challenger Brandy Chambers conceded to state Rep. Angie Chen Button (R-Richardson) this week after falling 224 votes short out of more than 69,000. The threshold for requesting a recount is a winning margin of 10% or less of the total votes cast.

In the Texas House, state Rep. Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) continues to proceed as the presumptive future speaker after announcing last week that he had collected enough commitments to win that office. Members of the Texas House elect their speaker at the beginning of each new session, but speaker candidates campaign long beforehand trying to collect enough commitments to win the vote. Gov. Greg Abbott (R) voiced support for Phelan this week after Phelan was lambasted by Texas Republican Party Chairman Allen West for his courting of Democratic votes. West moved to Texas from Florida and was elected the state GOP’s chairman in July.

Meanwhile, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) has offered a $1 million reward to anyone who can present evidence of voter fraud in the 2020 election leading to a criminal conviction. There has been no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the November election, despite unsubstantiated claims made by President Donald Trump. While Democrats held onto a slimmer majority in the U.S. House, control of the U.S. Senate now rests on a pair of January runoff races for Georgia’s two seats. A successful Republican defense of those offices would protect the GOP’s two-seat advantage in the upper chamber, while a pair of Democratic upsets would result in a 50-50 partisan split next year that could be broken by the vice president.

Our partners in the Texas Educators Vote coalition tabulated the turnout numbers and found that the number of Texans registered to vote grew 12% between 2016 and 2020, adding nearly 1.9 million registered voters for a total of just under 17 million. Almost 2.3 million more voters turned out in 2020 than in 2016, an increase of 25% for a total of more than 11.2 million voters.

Voter turnout in Texas was 66% in 2020, up from 59% in 2016, which is a significant improvement. Believe it or not, this was the state’s highest turnout since 1992, which saw an all-time high turnout of 72%. Young voters between the ages of 18 and 29 led the nation in early voting, including more than 1.2 million of them in Texas. According to Tufts University’s Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE), the top issues motivating young voters were the coronavirus, racism, and climate change.

All of this is encouraging information that suggests we are making good progress toward creating a culture of voting in Texas. It is also an indicator of the work we must still do to engage the one-third of Texans who are registered to vote and either choose not to or were prevented from doing so. Legislators are well aware of the growing voter engagement we’re seeing in Texas, and they have already pre-filed dozens of bills for the upcoming session aimed at either easing or restricting access to the polls.

From the Texas Tribune: A handful of battleground races in Texas remain unsettled after Election Day

Harris County election workers process data cards that contain ballot results at NRG Arena in Houston. Credit: Pu Ying Huang for The Texas Tribune

A handful of battleground races in Texas remain unsettled days after Election Day

A handful of battleground races in Texas remain unsettled days after Election Day” was first published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

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A few battleground races in Texas are still not fully settled as the current runner-up holds off on conceding, waiting to see more votes get counted.

Here are contests where the candidate with fewer votes has not admitted defeat as of Monday morning:

  • State House District 112: Democratic challenger Brandy Chambers is losing to Rep. Angie Chen Button, R-Richardson, by 224 votes out of 69,009 (0.32%)
  • State House District 135: Republican challenger Justin Ray is down against Rep. Jon Rosenthal, D-Houston, by 317 votes out of 74,504 (0.43%)
  • State House District 47: Republican challenger Justin Berry is behind Rep. Vikki Goodwin, D-Austin, by 1,324 out of 134,408 (0.99%)
  • 24th Congressional District: Democrat Candace Valenzuela trails Republican Beth Van Duyne by 4,489 votes out of 340,933 (1.32%)

Rosenthal, Goodwin and Van Duyne have all declared victory, while the current No. 2 finishers across the four races have declined to concede.

“Votes are still being counted,” Chambers wrote Friday on Facebook. “Team Brandy wants every vote counted. We will not make any decisions until every single vote is counted.”

In Texas, Monday is the last day for counties to receive overseas and military mail-in ballots. Tuesday is the last day for counties to review provisional ballots so they can be sent to ballot boards for counting. Nov. 16 is the last day for ballot boards to count late-arriving mail-in and provisional ballots, and the next day is the canvass deadline.

A runner-up candidate is eligible to request a recount if the difference between the number of votes they received and the number of votes the No. 1 finisher received is less than 10% of the latter. (For instance, if the leading candidate gets 2,000 votes and second place gets 1,850 votes, the margin of 150 is less than 200, which is 10% of 2,000, so the second-place candidate can call for a recount.)

The deadline to request a recount is 5 p.m. the second day after the canvass. If the second day is on a weekend, the deadline rolls over to Monday.

All four races where there has not been a concession yet were hotly contested by both sides. Valenzuela and Van Duyne were competing to replace retiring U.S. Rep. Kenny Marchant, R-Coppell, in what national Democrats saw as one of their best pickup opportunities in Texas. They aimed to flip 10 GOP-held seats here and have not notched any gains.

The three state House elections all factored in to the fight for the majority, which is remaining in Republican hands. Democrats were nine seats away from the majority before Tuesday, and they fell far short of it, picking up one seat and losing another.

In at least the 24th Congressional District, the No. 1 finisher, Van Duyne, has called on the current runner-up to accept defeat. Neither Decision Desk HQ, which is powering The Texas Tribune’s results, nor the Associated Press have called the race for Van Duyne.

“Once again, I will repeat, Beth Van Duyne will be the Congresswoman for Texas’ 24th District,” Van Duyne’s campaign manager, Donald Rickard, said in a statement Thursday. “Candace Valenzuela has no path whatsoever.”

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2020/11/09/texas-house-congressional-races-undecided/.

 

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Texas 2020 election recap: What we know so far

After one of the most unusual campaign seasons we’ve ever experienced, the 2020 election is finally (mostly) in the books! While we’re still awaiting official results in many races, a general picture of the new political landscape is beginning to take shape. It should be noted that some mail-in ballots, particularly those that were postmarked on Election Day and any votes cast by military members serving overseas, have yet to be counted. Some close results could still change once those outstanding ballots are processed.

Republicans look like they will hold onto their majority in the Texas House of Representatives, which Democrats had hoped to capture by flipping at least nine competitive House seats. The current split is 83 Republicans and 67 Democrats, and the early returns showed Republicans narrowly fending off Democratic challengers in all but one race. State Rep. Sarah Davis (R-Houston) conceded to Democratic opponent Ann Johnson Tuesday night on Twitter. That race appears to be offset by Democratic state Rep. Gina Calanni’s (D-Katy) loss to Republican Mike Schofield, who held the seat before Calanni defeated him in 2018.

Control of the House means the next speaker would be drawn from among Republican ranks, and the politicking among GOP candidates for speaker continued through election night and into this morning. State Rep. Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont), who chaired the House State Affairs Committee during the 2019 legislative session, announced Wednesday on Twitter that he had gathered the votes necessary to be elected speaker, although that election cannot take place until the Legislature meets in January.

The speaker will appoint committees and set the House agenda for the upcoming legislative session, beginning with important decisions about how to conduct the physical process of legislating and whether the House should conduct its business at the Texas Capitol or an alternate location in order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Republican control of the House would also guarantee GOP control of the redistricting process, ensuring that the new voting maps will favor Republicans for the next 10 years.

In the Texas Senate, former state Rep. Cesar Blanco (D-El Paso) was elected to succeed retiring state Sen. Jose Rodriguez (D-El Paso). Democrats reclaimed a seat lost to Republican Pete Flores in a 2018 special election. Former state Rep. Roland Gutierrez (D-San Antonio) defeated Sen. Flores by a relatively narrow margin of 10,000 votes. The Democratic win shifts the split in the Texas Senate to 18 Republicans and 13 Democrats, which would give Democrats the ability to block controversial legislation under the current Senate’s rule requiring three-fifths of members present and voting to consent to hearing a bill on the floor. The Texas Senate had previously boasted a long history of requiring a supermajority to pass legislation, a rule that was intended to prevent the chamber from becoming a partisan theater. Republican Dan Patrick immediately lowered that threshold from two-thirds after his election as lieutenant governor, and he has already announced his intention to lower the threshold to a simple majority should Democrats gain more seats.

Democrats appear on track to gain one seat on the 15-member State Board of Education (SBOE). Democrat Rebecca Bell-Metereau leads Republican Lani Popp in District 5, which was previously held by retiring Member Ken Mercer (R-San Antonio). Democrats had hoped to pick up two additional seats, which would have wrested the board majority from Republicans. Instead, the new board looks like it will be split between nine Republicans and six Democrats. The board will feature new members from both parties, including Republicans Audrey Young from East Texas and Jay Johnson from the panhandle, both of whom replaced retiring members. Over the past few years, the SBOE has become markedly less partisan and even at times a model of bipartisan productivity. We’re optimistic that the new class will continue along that path.

At the state level, Democrats’ hopes that Texas would step into the blue or purple column were dashed Tuesday night. Republican Donald Trump won 52% of the presidential vote in Texas, which is about the same share of Texas voters that he won in 2016. U.S. Sen. John Cornyn defeated Democratic challenger MJ Hegar by 10 percentage points, which was roughly double the margin that separated Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and Democrat Beto O’Rourke in 2018.

Stay tuned to our blog here on Teach the Vote for more detailed election results as we obtain more finalized information.

Texas election roundup: The final countdown

There are just five days left before Election Day, and it’s becoming clearer by the hour that every single vote will matter in this historic election.


According to the Texas Tribune, 8.6 million Texans have voted as of Wednesday. That’s 51% of registered voters, 5.4% of whom voted by mail. The number of Texans who have voted early in this election has already surpassed the 43.5% turnout over the two weeks of early voting in the 2016 election, and is approaching the total 2016 turnout of 59.4%.


The Cook Political Report this week moved Texas from “lean Republican” to “toss-up” in its analysis of likely Electoral College outcomes. The polls continue to show Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden neck-and-neck in Texas, with the RealClear Politics polling average giving Trump a 2.3% advantage — well within the margin of error. Democratic vice-presidential nominee Kamala Harris is scheduled to make a campaign swing through Texas on Friday, visiting Houston, Fort Worth, and the Rio Grande Valley.


Campaigns continue to raise and spend prodigious amounts of cash in the final week before Election Day. Candidates vying for competitive seats in the Texas House of Representatives raised nearly $40 million over the past month. Republicans outraised Democrats $24 million to $15 million, mostly through a few massive contributions from individuals such as Gov. Greg Abbott and organizations such as Texans for Lawsuit Reform. Democratic organizations meanwhile poured roughly $20 million into the U.S. Senate race between MJ Hegar and Republican incumbent John Cornyn.


This week has been another busy one for the U.S. Supreme Court. The court’s conservative majority ruled Monday that mail-in ballots in the battleground state of Wisconsin could only be counted if they arrive by Election Day, which means that state will be forced to throw out any ballots that are delayed by the postal service, regardless of when they were placed in the mail.

Before conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation, the court deadlocked 4-4 last week over a Republican lawsuit seeking to block the critical swing state of Pennsylvania from counting mail-in ballots received after Election Day. On Wednesday, the court declined to take up a new challenge filed by Republicans. As a result, Pennsylvania can count ballots that are postmarked by Election Day as long as they are received by Nov. 6. However the court’s conservative bloc signaled they would be open to throwing out ballots received after Election Day in Pennsylvania, regardless of when they are postmarked, if the election results are challenged in court.

The cases in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania don’t directly impact mail-in voting in Texas, but they do shed some light into how the highest court in the land may decide questions about mail-in ballots if the outcome of the election is disputed. This shouldn’t discourage anyone from voting, but it does highlight the fact that time is critically short for those planning to vote by mail.


Without the guarantee that mail-in ballots will be delivered in a timely manner, the safest option is to deposit mail-in ballots at your county’s designated drop-off location by November 3. If you have received a mail-in ballot and decide you would rather vote in person, you must take your ballot with you and surrender it at the polling location. Otherwise you will be forced to vote a provisional ballot and your vote may not be counted.

We’re in the final countdown now. The polls continue to narrow in Texas, which means that every single vote could make the difference. If you’ve already voted, make sure every eligible voter you know does so as well. If you haven’t voted yet, don’t wait. Lines could be long on Election Day. Early voting ends Friday, October 30. Research candidates here at Teach the Vote, make your voting plan, and go vote today!

Texas election roundup: Less than two weeks remaining!

There are less than two weeks, and only one weekend, remaining to vote in the 2020 elections, and the clock is ticking! Early voting continues through Friday, October 30, with Election Day on November 3.


The presidential candidates wrapped up their second and final debate of the campaign season last night in Nashville, Tennessee. The final debate had been rescheduled by the Commission on Presidential Debates after an earlier townhall-style event was canceled when the president contracted COVID-19. Now the campaigns will go their separate ways for the remainder of the election. A new Quinnipiac University poll this week showed Donald Trump and Joe Biden tied at 47% each among likely Texas voters. A rolling average of recent polls tracked by RealClearPolitics shows Trump with a 4% advantage in Texas.


The Texas Tribune reports that 5.9 million Texans have voted early as of October 21, or about 34.7% of registered voters. Of those, 4.3% submitted their ballots by mail. According to early voting statistics compiled by Republican consultant Derek Ryan, 32.1% of early voters last voted in a Republican primary, compared to 29.0% who last voted in a Democratic primary. Another 26.3% have voted in a general election but have no primary election voting history, and 12.7% of the early voters have no history of voting in any election before now.

The Texas Supreme Court continued to release election-related decisions this week. The state’s highest court ruled in favor of Harris County on Thursday and tossed out a challenge by the Republican Party of Texas to block drive-through voting in the state’s largest county. This means voters in Harris County can continue to visit one of 10 drive-through voting locations set up by the county to allow voters fearing COVID-19 to cast ballots from the safety of their automobiles.


In the race for U.S. Senate here in Texas, Democratic candidate MJ Hegar reported raising three times as much as incumbent Republican Sen. John Cornyn in the first half of October, $3.7 million to $1.3 million. Hegar also ended with more money in the bank, $6.9 million to $3.8 million. Both candidates spent around the same amount, with Cornyn spending $5.6 million and Hegar spending $5.3 million. This week’s Quinnipiac poll shows Cornyn with a 6% advantage over Hegar, 49% to 43%.


Speaking of polls, Texas Tribune Executive Editor Ross Ramsey points out in this handy video how polls have their strengths and weaknesses. Many polls in 2016 inaccurately predicted Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton would win the presidential election. Polls are based on estimates of what the electorate will look like, and predicting that is part art and part science. Polls are generally quite accurate, but unexpected changes in the electorate can throw off a poll’s results. Pollsters have therefore spent the years since 2016 trying to develop better models of the electorate, especially at the state level. A poll is also a snapshot of a single moment in time, which is why you see margins shift over the course of an election cycle. The best way to consume polling information is to look at an average of recent polls.

The first two weeks of early voting have already set records, and there is still a full week of early voting left! If you haven’t voted yet, go to the candidates section here at Teach the Vote and research the races based on your address. Then make your plan to go vote with the aid of this handy guide. Your vote is the single most impactful tool you have to ensure our schools are safe, healthy, and well-funded. Now get out there and exercise it!

Texas election roundup: Early voting begins next week!

At long last, the strangest election season in our lifetime is reaching a crescendo. The polls in Texas are set to open next Tuesday when you can finally cast your vote in critical elections up and down the ballot!

Gov. Abbott extended the early voting period for the November 2020 general election, as he similarly did for the primary runoff elections in July. The intent was to decrease crowding at polling locations, which could place in-person voters at greater risk of contracting COVID-19. Yet a number of high-profile Republicans, including the chairman of the Republican Party of Texas, filed a lawsuit last month arguing Abbott’s exceeded his constitutional authority in extending the early voting window. The Texas Supreme Court issued a decision this week upholding the governor’s decision and affirming that Texans may begin early voting on Tuesday, October 13. Early voting will run through October 30.

This year, it’s more important than ever to have a voting plan in order to spend as little time in the voting booth as possible. Part of putting your plan together involves researching candidates, which you can do right here at Teach the Vote! Our site features profiles of all candidates vying for the Texas House, Texas Senate, or State Board of Education this year. If a candidate in your area has not opted to participate in the ATPE Candidate Survey, encourage them to do so. It’s not too late!

Texas is the focus of an influx in spending by former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign after years of being left out of the national conversation during presidential elections. Reports this week indicate the Democratic nominee has booked more than $6 million in television advertising in Texas over the campaign’s final stretch, marking the largest spend by a presidential candidate in Texas in decades. That total will be supplemented by an additional $1 million in TV ads purchased by the Lincoln Project, a Republican media organization focused on defeating President Donald Trump. News of the ad buys follow reports late last month that the Republican National Committee sent $1.3 million to the Republican Party of Texas to shore up its 2020 election efforts.

All are signs that both parties see a close race in Texas, which hasn’t voted for a Democratic presidential nominee since 1976. Barack Obama lost Texas by 12 percentage points in 2008, and Donald Trump won the state by 9 points in 2016. Recent polling shows President Trump leading in Texas by an average of 3.2 percent, which is within the margin of error of most polls. The Cook Political Report currently lists Texas as “lean Republican” in its Electoral College analysis.

More than 50 million Americans tuned in Wednesday night to watch Vice President Mike Pence and U.S. Senator Kamala Harris face off in the one and only vice presidential debate to take place this year. The nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates announced Thursday morning that the next presidential debate, a townhall-style event scheduled for October 15, would be conducted virtually in accordance with health safety guidelines necessitated by the president’s recent COVID-19 diagnosis. President Trump responded to the decision by threatening to boycott the debate and hold a rally instead. The Biden campaign suggested postponing the townhall to October 22, giving the president time to recover from the virus and no longer be contagious. At this point, the date and manner of the next debate remains up in the air.

Texas election roundup: Registration deadline Monday!


An important deadline is approaching ahead of the critical Nov. 3 election! Monday, October 5 is the last to register to vote if you are not already registered in the county in which you plan to cast your ballot.

Everyone, whether you think you are registered or not, should check their registration status NOW via the Texas Secretary of State (SOS) website. In order to check your status, simply click the link above and locate the section on the right hand side of the page that says “Login.” Choose one of the three choices for identity verification: Voter unique identifier (VUID) and date of birth (DOB); Texas drivers license (TDL) and date of birth; or name, county, and date of birth.

You can find your VUID on your voter registration card that you received from your county voter registrar, but the easiest option for many people may just be to use their drivers license and date of birth. Once you’ve entered your information and clicked “Submit,” you will be taken to a second screen that displays your voter status. Look on the left hand side of the screen under the section labeled “Voter Information.” Find where it says “Voter Status” to confirm your status.

If your voter status shows you are not registered or if you receive a pop-up notification that reads “Voter not found using the information provided,” then you will need to contact your county voter registrar in order to confirm your registration or just fill out new registration paperwork. You can find the voter registrar for your county by clicking here.

The SOS website allows you to request a voter registration application by mail, which you can then turn into your county voter registrar, but that application is not likely to reach you in time for the Monday deadline. For that reason, you should use the SOS online registration feature. The site allows you to fill out a registration form online. Once the application is filled out:

  • Print the application
  • Sign it;
  • Insert in an envelope addressed to the county (the address is at the top of the form);
  • Place a first class stamp on the envelope; and
  • Drop it in the Mail – by October 5!

If you don’t have access to a printer, you can also register directly through your county voter registrar. In most cases, the process is as simple as going down to the county offices and filling out a simple form. Whichever method you use, be sure that your ballot is delivered or postmarked by Monday, October 5!

That’s the long and short of it. Make sure you are registered to vote in the county in which you plan to vote, and make sure every eligible voter you know is registered as well. That means if you are a college student, whether you decide to vote in your home county or in the county where you go to school is up to you — but the key is that you must be registered in the county in which you plan to vote. Registration is critical. Every vote will count in this election.


In other election news, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday that there will be no straight-ticket voting in Texas for the Nov. 3 election. The Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a state law passed in 2017 that ended the practice of straight-ticket voting in Texas and overturned a ruling last week by a lower court judge who attempted to reinstate straight-ticket voting ahead of the election.


As we previously reported, state Rep. Drew Springer (R-Muenster) and metroplex salon owner Shelley Luther will head to a special runoff election to represent North Texas in the Texas Senate after Tuesday’s special election in Senate District (SD) 30. In the final tally, Luther led Springer by a microscopic margin of 32.17% to 31.93%, with just 164 votes separating the two. Gov. Greg Abbott will determine when to hold the runoff.


Gov. Abbott issued an order Thursday limiting counties to a single drop-off location for mail-in ballots. With a nationwide uptick in mail-in voting expected as a result of concerns over COVID-19 exposure, several cities have offered multiple locations for voters to hand deliver their mail-in ballot in order to reduce pressure on the postal service to deliver millions of mail-in ballots to county election officials on time. Harris County, which spans more than 1,700 square miles and is home to 2.4 million registered voters, offered a dozen locations for voters to drop off mail-in ballots. Travis County, which is home to more than 700,000 voters spread across 1,000 square miles, offered four locations. Gov. Abbott’s order limits each county to a single location regardless of size, citing an effort to “strengthen ballot security protocols.”

The governor did not describe how decreasing the number of drop-off locations would strengthen security protocols, and Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir called the move “a deliberate attempt to manipulate the election.” Despite the spread of misinformation regarding the security of mail-in voting, every study conducted thus far has affirmed that widespread voter fraud does not exist.


More than 73 million people tuned in to watch Tuesday night’s debate between President Donald Trump and former Vice-President Joe Biden. It was the first of three debates the campaigns have agreed to, in addition to one debate between vice-presidential candidates Mike Pence and Kamala Harris. The rest of the schedule is as follows:

  • Wednesday, October 7: Vice-presidential Debate
  • Thursday, October 15: Presidential Debate
  • Thursday, October 22: Presidential Debate

That means the last two presidential debates will happen while Texans are casting their ballots. Early voting in Texas begins Oct. 13 and runs through Oct. 30. Gov. Abbott extended the normal two-week early voting period to three weeks in order to facilitate better social distancing at polling locations. But it won’t do you any good if you’re not registered to vote. Check your registration today!

Texas election roundup: More court rulings

A pair of court decisions this week could make a significant impact on the November elections.

On Tuesday, the Texas Supreme Court ruled that three Green Party candidates must be restored to the November ballot, despite a lower court’s order to remove them because they had not paid the required filing fees. The conventional wisdom is that Green Party candidates tend to attract some voters who may have otherwise voted for a Democrat, and their presence in a close race could tip the balance toward the Republican candidate. The Texas Democratic Party filed the original complaint to remove the candidates, while the Republican justices on the Texas Supreme Court overturned the decision.

Another Texas Supreme Court decision announced Tuesday blocked Harris County from sending mail-in ballot applications to all registered voters in the county. As previously reported here at Teach the Vote, ballot applications are not the same as ballots themselves. In the Harry County case, voters would still have to make the determination of whether they are eligible to apply to vote by mail, then fill out and return the application in order to receive an actual ballot in the mail. If think you may be eligible and are considering voting by mail, check out this post by Teach the Vote that explains the process in detail.

These decisions underscore the importance of every single vote in this election. These decisions are likely to impact a relatively small number of votes, but the reason they are the subject of litigation in the first place is an acknowledgement of just how close the November elections could be.

Now onto lighter topics!

If you watched ABC this week, you may have caught the network special VOMO: Vote or Miss Out. The comedy special hosted by Kevin Hart featured guest appearances by Tiffany Hadish, Michelle Obama, Tim Allen, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and other celebrities urging Americans to vote. If you need a little comedic motivation, you can watch the full special here or watch clips on YouTube.

The Texas Tribune reported this week that new voter registrations in Texas have plummeted during the COVID-19 pandemic. The deadline to register to vote in the November 3 election is less than three weeks away. Voters have until October 5 to register to vote if you have not already done so in the county in which you plan to cast your ballot. If you’re unsure whether you are registered, you can use this tool on the Texas Secretary of State’s website. For more information about registering, click here.

Texas election roundup: North Texas Senate race takes shape and more

Gov. Greg Abbott (R-Texas) announced over the weekend there will be a special election Sept. 29 to replace outgoing state Sen. Pat Fallon (R-Prosper), who is vacating his seat in the Texas Senate in order to run for U.S. Congress.

Fallon won the Republican nomination to replace U.S. Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-TX 4), who President Donald Trump appointed Director of National Intelligence. In the overwhelmingly Republican 4th Congressional District of Texas, Fallon is virtually guaranteed to win the general election in November.

Fallon sent a letter to Gov. Abbott on Saturday announcing his resignation effective Jan. 4 at midnight. Abbott’s proclamation states that the emergency special election is being set so quickly to ensure Senate District (SD) 30 is represented when the next legislative session begins in January. This marks an about-face from the governor’s decision-making when then-state Sen. Sylvia Garcia (D-Houston) resigned her seat in order to run for Congress in 2018. The governor waited to set the special election for that seat, leaving voters in SD 6 without representation for several months at the beginning of the 86th Texas Legislature.

Candidates have until 5:00 p.m. Friday to file for the SD 30 special election, and several contenders have already announced their candidacy. State Rep. Drew Springer (R-Muenster) was the first to announce his candidacy and has received endorsements from Sen. Fallon and several members of the Texas House and Texas Senate. Dallas salon owner Shelley Luther, who achieved notoriety among certain circles for her arrest in violation of state and local public health orders, has announced her intent to run. Denton Mayor Chris Watts has submitted his resignation as mayor and has established a campaign committee for SD 30. ATPE will be profiling each candidate in the special election here on Teach the Vote as their campaigns are launched. Early voting in the SD 30 special election will begin Monday, Sept. 14.

U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a GOP megadonor appointed to run the U.S. Postal Service in May, testified before Congress this week in response to an escalating scandal over ordering changes that have resulted in nationwide mail delays, which the postal service has warned could disrupt the delivery of mail-in ballots in the November election.

DeJoy promised to deliver election mail on time in November, but urged those voting by mail to request their ballots early and mail them in as soon as possible. DeJoy also defended his decisions to House and Senate committees and refused to put back more than 600 mail sorting machines that have been taken out of service and dismantled.

The agency and DeJoy’s actions have come under bipartisan scrutiny after President Trump stated in an interview on Fox Business Channel and a subsequent White House briefing earlier this month that he will oppose funding for the postal service in order to prevent it from being able to process mail-in ballots. On Saturday, U.S. House Democrats and 26 Republicans passed bipartisan legislation that would continue funding for the Postal Service and block DeJoy’s operational changes.

The Republican National Convention continues this week, with President Trump scheduled to close out the event with a speech Thursday night. The convention continued its focus on school privatization Wednesday by featuring a speech from a school voucher advocate before the primetime address by Vice-President Mike Pence, who emphasized that privatization would be a top priority for the administration in a second term.

Texas election roundup: Postmaster General pauses disruption

The U.S. Postal Service warned Texas officials in July that it may be unable to deliver some mail-in ballots on time in order to meet the deadlines for them to be counted in the November 2020 presidential election. If nothing changes, the consequences for the roughly 7% of Texans who typically vote by mail in a presidential contest could be having their votes go uncounted.

This admission came after U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a megadonor President Donald Trump appointed to run the post office in May, began making changes that have resulted in mail delays around the country. At the same time, President Trump announced he would oppose funding for the USPS in order to prevent the mail service from being able to process mail-in ballots for the presidential election.

Under pressure from 20 states that have filed lawsuits against the USPS over the delays, DeJoy announced this week he would pause those changes for the rest of the year. DeJoy is scheduled to testify Friday before the U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee.

This week began convention season on the campaign trail, with Democrats holding a virtual convention to formally nominate Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as the 2020 Democratic ticket. The return to schools was high on the list of topics discussed at the Democratic National Convention, with Biden’s wife Dr. Jill Biden delivering a speech from inside a classroom at the high school were she once taught. The Republican National Convention will begin next week in Charlotte, North Carolina, where Republicans will formally nominate Donald Trump for reelection.

In Texas, Democratic candidates won a legal battle to keep Green Party candidates off the statewide November ballot. The lawsuit accused the candidates of being ineligible because they failed to pay the required filing fees. The Green Party has argued those filing fees are unconstitutional. Third-party candidates in Texas rarely exceed single digits in statewide elections, but they could win enough votes to shift the outcome of a close race between a Democrat and Republican.

A new Texas poll conducted by YouGov and Rice University in August shows Trump leading Biden by 5% among likely voters. The number is higher than most recent Texas polls that have shown a close race within the margin of error. The same poll shows U.S. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) leading Democratic challenger MJ Hegar by 6%.