Another Tumblr - ariadoney - has some concerns about the ready availability of voter registration information on the internet, and I suspect others may have similar concerns:
All you have to do is look up my name, and you can get my address, phone number, which site I vote at, and even my voter ID number. I’m sorry, but shouldn’t this sort of stuff be password protected or something?
First, I would point that you can only search by name in certain counties, such as Travis (e.g., if you search my name, you will find that I man not registered in Travis), because not all counties have designated election sites or have this information on the web. This information can also be viewed through the Secretary of State’s site, but you will need more than just a name. Second, once you submit your application to the Voter Registrar’s office, it becomes a public record that may be requested; the only information which will be redacted is your DL or SSN number. By putting this information online, it makes it more convenient to verify a voter’s registration without having to travel to the voter registrar’s office. Being involved in a recent election contest, such a service proved invaluable. Lastly, the only real concern one should have is the availability of the phone number. In Texas, your phone number is not required on your application, but if you put it on there, rest assured you will be receiving political calls during a given election cycle. If you have any further concern about your information being on the web, do contact your voter registrar’s office - you can find the number for your county office here.
It’s been a year since I went floating the river. Today, we went back to the Comal, rather than the Guadalupe. Pro tip: if you’re going to float in New Braunfels, go to the Comal, which is deeper and a shorter float (usually an hour and 30 minutes, sometimes two hours, and they’ll shuttle you back around to the start if you want to go again), whereas the Guadalupe is shallow (right now you would have to walk most of it) and a 3-6 hour float. I’ve been floating the Comal for about ten years (the number of years I’ve lived in Austin), and this is the first year I have seen anyone arrested (5 people to be exact). I remember when there were fewer rules, less people floating and little law enforcement presence. All that has changed. Oh well, it’s still fun to float; though I would recommend getting there before noon, before too many people start floating and clog the river. And people getting arrested is entertaining.
New GOP Map Targets Ron Paul? That’s the headline from the Texas Tribune with regards to the latest proposed redistricting map, which the creators stress is only a proposal. Of course, who knows how the maps will look in the end, because of the litigation which will inevitably occur, and the maps may end up being drawn by the courts. That aside, let’s look at how the CD-14 (the home of Ron Paul) would change. This is how the district currently looks:
As you can see, the district runs down the Gulf Coast and includes all, or parts, of 9 counties. This is the proposed new look for district 14, according to plan 130:
The district has been reduced to three counties from nine, and Jefferson County has been added. As the Tribune notes, the addition of Jefferson and the loss of the other 6 counties will reduce the number of Anglos in CD-14 and increase the number of African-Americans and Hispanics. PlanC125 isn’t much different from PlanC130, although it keeps Chambers in the district while adding only part of Jefferson. You can view all of the proposed plans here.
In a New York Times article published yesterday, Dave Leonhardt discussed how early states distort economic policy, but first raises the issue of how early primaries distort the selection of candidates. The study he mentions is “Momentum and Social Learning in Presidential Primaries” by Brian Knight and Nathan Schiff. The authors look at the 2004 Democratic primary and found evidence, based on daily polling data that the leading candidates received a boost in the polls from winning the primaries in early states. We previously looked at the influence of Iowa in the Republican primary, and when we looked that results of the Iowa caucuses, there doesn’t seem to be much influence on the final outcome. Looking at the Democratic column, Iowa has been more reflective of the final Democratic nominee than of the Republican nominee. I haven’t finished reading the paper yet, but to get a better picture of the influence of early states, it seems necessary to expand this study beyond the 2004 Democratic primary. Back to Mr Leonhradt’s article, he notes that neither Iowa or New Hampshire voters are representative of most of the population, and thus, candidates do not address the issues important to most voters. Both states are over-hyped in terms their actual relevance to the political process: Iowa awarded 45 out of 57 delegates in the Democratic primary, while New Hampshire awarded 22 out of 30 (similar numbers in the Republican primary); numbers which pale in comparison to the delegates from large urban states. And both political parties are working to prevent front loading, especially by larger states. What harm is there in offending the delicate sensibilities of Iowa and New Hampshire?