Daily News
Q: Can I Leave Work to Go Vote?
A: Maybe. If the polls are open either two hours before your work starts, or two hours after quitting time, then your employer is not obligated to let you leave work to vote. Otherwise, yes, the boss must give you time off to go vote. Here is what the Texas Election Code says:

(a) A person commits an offense if, with respect to another person over whom the person has authority in the scope of employment, the person knowingly:
(1) refuses to permit the other person to be absent from work on election day for the purpose of attending the polls to vote; or
(2) subjects or threatens to subject the other person to a penalty for attending the polls on election day to vote.
(b) It is an exception to the application of this section that the person's conduct occurs in connection with an election in which the polls are open on election day for voting for two consecutive hours outside of the voter's working hours.
(c) In this section, "penalty" means a loss or reduction of wages or another benefit of employment.
(d) An offense under this section is a Class C misdemeanor.

8:37AM Tue. Nov. 7, 2006, Lee Nichols Read More | Comment »

Voter Assistance Hotline
As you head to the polls today, take this phone number with you: 866/OUR-VOTE. (866/687-8683)

That's the voter assistance hotline manned by the nonpartisan Election Protection Coalition, a project of the People for the American Way Foundation, the NAACP, and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. If you are having trouble figuring out how or where to vote, or if you think you are being denied your right to vote, they promise to have trained volunteers providing immediate, state specific, assistance to callers.

6:00AM Tue. Nov. 7, 2006, Lee Nichols Read More | Comment »

How to Watch a Bill Welch Ad
You may have noticed a sudden upsurge in ads for Republican state House District 47 candidate Bill Welch over the weekend. That's because, as we've previously blogged, he received a last-minute infusion of almost $700,000 in the month leading up to Election Day, including almost half a million from "Voucher Sugar Daddy" (as the campaign of Democrat Valinda Bolton put it) James Leininger. To express their displeasure at Leininger's attempt to buy yet another election, Education Austin – the union for Austin teachers and school staff – held a press conference Friday at Kocurek Elementary, where Bolton said, "In my opponent's ads, he keeps saying that I'm opposed to merit pay for teachers. You're darn right I am; the high-stakes testing pressure is so much, and it's unfair to tie teachers' pay to it." Teachers unions have historically opposed what proponents call "merit pay" because, they say, it leads to in-school politics determining who gets raises.

The Bolton campaign offers up other ways to interpret Welch's words on its Web site with something it calls The Official Bill Welch Translator. It's one of the best examples of interactive (in the online sense) political campaigning we've seen this season.

4:09PM Mon. Nov. 6, 2006, Lee Nichols Read More | Comment »

Travis County Still Needs Election Workers
This just in from Travis County Elections:

Election Poll Clerks and Election Night Workers Needed

Austin – Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir today put out a final call for Election Day polling place clerks and election night workers.

“The election process relies on the active participation of our citizenry,” DeBeauvoir said today. “Whether you’re an early bird or a night owl, we’ve got a job for you.”

1:16PM Mon. Nov. 6, 2006, Lee Nichols Read More | Comment »

09/09/01 – Never Forget
We almost missed this gem over the weekend, wherein Rick Perry accused Chris Bell of living in a "post-September 9th world."

Having flexed his quiz show acumen during last month's debate, we were prepared for Bell to elucidate upon the historical import of this grave day, but – wow. From a press release:

"As to the knowledge of the events of September 9th, Bell has a good grasp on the date's historical significance. Of course, September 9th was the birthday of famous Russian author Leo Tolstoy in 1828. No one could forget September 9th, 1973--the day that Terry Anne Meeuwsen of Wisconsin was crowned as the 45th Miss America." (Yet coincidentally, the release notes, "on September 9, 2003, Rick Perry proclaimed a special session in order to discuss redistricting. If we were not in a post-September 9th world, Chris Bell would still be in Congress.")

Well, if things don't work out Tuesday, we've got a plan for Mr. Bell.

11:35AM Mon. Nov. 6, 2006, Wells Dunbar Read More | Comment »

Down-to-the-Wire Polling Numbers
Here are the latest numbers as of Monday morning, freely stolen from some of my favorite sources: electoral-vote.com, Majority Watch, the Dallas Morning News and the Houston Chronicle. What to expect: Dems will easily take the House, it's anybody's guess in the U.S. Senate, Perry will still be our governor and Hutchison will still be our senator.

But please, folks, don't let any of these numbers discourage you from voting. Remember, there is only one poll that matters, and that's the one being conducted tomorrow in your local precinct. Remember, Dewey did not beat Truman.

11:09AM Mon. Nov. 6, 2006, Lee Nichols Read More | Comment »

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Final Early Voting Totals
On Friday, a surge of 18,884 Travis County residents made their way to the polls to vote, the highest total of the early voting period, bringing the early voting grand total to 93,100. Add in the 5,560 mail-in ballots county officials have received, and that makes 98,660 who have cast their vote before Election Day, or 17.76% of Travis' 555,579 registered voters. Using the conventional wisdom that Election Day numbers are usually double those of early voting, a 50% turnout is not an unreasonable expectation, good numbers for a nonpresidential year.

Remember, Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 7. Polls will be open 7am-7pm. Voters must vote in their neighborhood precinct. Do you know your precinct number? It's on your voter registration card. If you've lost your card, look up your registration info here: http://www.traviscountytax.org/showVoterNameSearch.do or call the county tax assesor at 854-9473. Then, locate your precinct location here: http://www.co.travis.tx.us/county_clerk/election/20061107/polls.asp. You must take some form of ID that includes your address, although it does not have to be a photo ID. Registered voters can vote with a voter registration card; driver’s license or any official photo ID; birth certificate; United States citizenship papers or passport; or a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, or other official document that shows the name and address of the voter.

1:26PM Sun. Nov. 5, 2006, Lee Nichols Read More | Comment »

Fort Hood-Area Residents Screwed by Their Local PBS Station
[EDIT: Mary Beth Harrell's campaign says it has been notified that KNCT has reversed the decision detailed below, and will air the episode of NOW on Monday evening at 8pm. Also, the complete episode may be viewed anytime on NOW's Web site.]

KNCT, Killeen's PBS station, did a tremendous disservice to its Fort Hood-area viewership on Friday by refusing to show the NOW national political news program that focused on the Congressional District 31 race. The program did an excellent job profiling the two leading candidates, Republican incumbent John Carter and Democratic challenger Mary Beth Harrell, and how their views of the Iraq war are affecting their campaigns in this military-heavy district. Given that Carter has refused to debate Harrell even once during this campaign, it would have been a fine opportunity for District 31 residents to get educated on the race (funny – I always thought education was a core mission of public television). "[T]he Local PBS affiliate deliberately deprived the local community it serves the right to view the program," said Harrell's campaign in a press release.

10:09AM Sun. Nov. 5, 2006, Lee Nichols Read More | Comment »

PBS in Central Texas
I just watched the coverage of the Texas Congressional District 31 race on PBS's NOW, and it was quite impressive. A great example of how journalism with a viewpoint (make no mistake – any program founded by Bill Moyers is gonna be liberal) can still be evenhanded and not manipulative (see my complaints about HBO's Hacking Democracy).

9:37PM Fri. Nov. 3, 2006, Lee Nichols Read More | Comment »

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