Even though Texas’ primary elections are a year from now let’s continue to add depth to what may seem one-dimensional concept, that is, what elections are, what voting rules are, who can vote, when the elections happen. OK. Lets move to the next level–how the core elements of this block converge. This block, remember, is all about the political components of our government. These institutions and processes PRODUCE the governing institutions–all 181 state legislators, all six state executives, and 32 Congressmen & women. Interest groups, voting groups (like SW Voter Research, League of Women Voters, etc) contribute $$ and information about candidates. Politcal parties have nominated candidates and help campaigns. The state of Texas and your county officials register and run the elections–starting on the 18th—early voting. Despite the negatives (campaign money passing hands, tons of brain-dead informercials, signs cluttering everywhere) the system is still churning away. It’s like time–doesn’t stop for anything. I would think that its better to be part of it than on the outside, not connected. Besides, it’s part of learning! What we’re going to do this next step, is connect voting & elections, with the basic form a democratic republic runs by–being represented by elective officials. This concept is like silk–it may seem very flimsy, or invisible, but it can also be very strong and effective. It’s just a matter of understanding, and being realistic. We don’t have the luxury of idealistic!

WEEK 8 Part 2 assignment: please access this Texas Secretary of State link– 

Who Represents Me?       

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(First a word about this office–The state SoS is the state’s Elections Chief, and the state’s First Officer, if you want a military analogy …currently the Texas Secretary of State is John Steen, a San Antonio Lawyer who also served on the Texas Public Safety Commission)

Next, fill out the blocks for your current officeholders (incumbents). Choose “all districts”  You’ll get a list of several officials, but I don’t want you to see them per se, but to “see” what they represent.  If we don’t stop to do this important calculation, there’s no point even pretending to understand our form of government.  We have this responsibility, even if it’s only in thought–otherwise, officials just continue to think it’s all about THEM. 

At the top of the list are the federal-level officeholders–US Senators & US Representative…  then the list of state reps & senators, then the State Board of Education rep.  Write down the district number of each listed.  If more than two officeholders are listed, write down both.

For the assignment, click “district info” at the bottom of the page, then click “all reports and maps”…this way you can see the districts, as well as get the info… choose House, then put the district # for House, and then click “income and housing”

Provide a brief profile of your district, ie, including comparison to the state average overall (below or above) for the three income measurements.  Then include a profile of housing values (owner-occupied)   You will also do the same comparison for Congressional district (click back button)  Don’t forget to change the district # for Congressional district.

You should also view the map for the two districts, as a way of understanding and explaining the profile of the district.  Voila!  You are seeing what and who the elected person is supposed to, and does represent in Austin, and in Washington.  Keep in mind as you view the map, how is the population distributed?  Is there a large city in the district, or a college town?  Military base?  Who are the big employers or crops?  Again, this is what is represented, and it’s pretty basic!


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