Austin’s Gerrymandered House Districts Are Not As Safe as the GOP Thinks

On March 13, 2018 Democrat Conor Lamb won the special election for Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District—which Trump carried by almost 20 points. Running for an open seat is generally easier than running against an incumbent, but it’s worth noting that Trump won by a smaller margin in every one of Austin’s “safe” GOP House districts.

Let’s break it down.

PA-18 was more Republican than any of Austin's GOP districts

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PA-18 was more Republican than any of Austin's GOP districts

PA-18 was more Republican than any of Austin's GOP districts

PA-18 was more Republican than any of Austin's GOP districts

PA-18 was more Republican than any of Austin's GOP districts

PA-18 was more Republican than any of Austin's GOP districts

Of course, none of this matters if people don’t get out and vote, beginning with the runoff elections in May and then the midterms in November.

Primary Election Runoff

Be a Texas Voter(NOTE: When you vote in the runoff you must vote in the same party election as you did in the primary. You cannot switch to vote in the other party’s election.)

Last day to register to vote: April 23

Early voting: May 14 – May 18

Election day: May 22

Midterm Elections

Last Day to Register to Vote: Tuesday, October 9, 2018

First Day of Early Voting: Monday, October 22, 2018

Last Day of Early Voting: Friday, November 2, 2018

Election Day: Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Data Sources:

Daily Kos (Google Sheet)

Tracking Congress In The Age Of Trump (FiveThirtyEight)

How Your Voices Made a Difference: Inexorable Progress

Judging by his customary angry-baby tantrum whenever it looks like the spotlight is about to shine on his misdoings, Donald must be getting pretty nervous about what Steve Bannon might have revealed to author Michael Wolff, whose incendiary new book claims to shed behind-the-scenes light—unflattering light at best—on Donald’s campaign, administration, and person. After an “I know you are but what am I” tweetstorm calling into question Bannon’s sanity (as if no one were questioning it already), Donny desperately tried to block the book’s release, his lawyers sending a cease-and-desist to Bannon and the president of Henry Holt, the publisher. The author, however, responded that he has tapes of Bannon and Donald’s former deputy chief of staff to corroborate, and thanked Donald for making his book an advance bestseller on Amazon; the publisher as a result decided to release the book this past Friday, four days early. This sent Donny into an even greater tizzy, tweeting that he’s “like, really smart” and “a very stable genius” as he bemoaned the fact that libel laws were too lenient, and White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders said with a straight face that the fact that people can even besmirch the president was “disgusting,” and—in a coup de grâce of irony—that Donald “believes in making sure that information is accurate before pushing it out as fact, when it certainly and clearly is not.” Meanwhile Breitbart considers whether to fire Bannon, and the Mercer billionaires that back the outlet have severed ties with him, as a panicked White House has banned cell phones from the West Wing. Welcome to the circus.

New revelations indicate that Donald instructed his lawyer Don McGahn, to convince Jeff Sessions not to recuse himself from overseeing the Russia probe, despite the Russian contacts Session lied about, which prompted his resignation. This would constitute obstruction of justice, and Mueller is said to be investigating it as a key element of his probe.

Donald abruptly shut down his sham voting fraud commission, formed after his false claims that it was voter fraud that resulted in his losing the popular vote by 3 million. The commission had been beset by problems since its inception, from its illegal requests of states to provide voter information to lawsuits to its exclusion of Democrats in its functions—and hasn’t produced a scrap of evidence to support its assertions of widespread voter fraud.

Mike Pence and his family were greeted by their neighbors on their Colorado ski vacation with Make America Gay Again banners.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts announced an initiative to protect court employees from sexual harassment after group of nearly 700 former and current law clerks sent Roberts a letter requesting action.

Alabama senator Doug Jones was sworn into the Senate, closing the GOP majority to 51-49…a narrow margin that may shift entirely away from Republicans in 2018.

Washington State’s attorney general has filed suit against Motel 6 for routinely handing over to federal immigration agents info about registered guests without any reasonable suspicion, probable cause or search warrants, including circling names that sounded Latino.

One of the women who accused Roy Moore of statutory sexual contact with her when she was 14 has sued the failed senate candidate for defamation after he attacked her character in the wake of her allegations against him.

Donald’s false or misleading claims while in office are approaching the 2,000 mark, a grim milestone that defines his presidency at a rate of nearly six lies a day. In case America is missing the Orwellian overtones of his reign thus far, Donald gave a video statement at a White House press conference at which he sat 150 feet away. Like the Wizard of Oz.

Fusion GPS published this op-ed in the New York Times defending their investigation that yielded the infamous dossier on Donald (you know the one…complete with golden showers). In it the company discusses the 21 hours of testimony they gave to three congressional committees that the GOP-led committees stifled, and they share some of their testimony the congressional committees have refused to release about the dossier that was funded by Republicans as well as the Clinton campaign.

2017 sucked on many levels, but don’t overlook the big-picture global progress inexorably being made, despite Donald and the minions. And record numbers of women are running or seriously considering running for governor across the country—79, leaving the previous record of 34 (in 1994) in the dust, and dozens of women are running for office in Texas.

How your voices are making a difference: Roll Tide!

Our feature story: The Crimson Tide turned blue this week as Alabama decided to send demagogue, scofflaw, and accused child molester Roy Moore packing (and the horse he rode to the polls on), handing the win to Democrat Doug Jones, a man who made his mark defending a little girl against the KKK in 1963. While we might hope that the spread between decency and depravity had been greater than 1.5 points—even in Alabama—it’s a positive sign: the victory narrows the GOP majority in the Senate to just 2, and sends the first Democrat to Congress from Alabama since 1992.

Austin City Council took a step toward police reform by rejecting the police union contract that Campaign Zero called one of the worst in the nation.

The FCC voted to roll back net neutrality rules, despite that it places control over end users’ internet access and costs in the hands of corporations, despite that the large majority of Americans—including three-quarters of Republicans—support net neutrality rules, and despite that 18 attorneys general asked the FCC to delay the vote until allegations of widespread commenting fraud could be investigated. But the ACLU, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, and other groups have already announced they will sue to oppose the rollback and defend a free and open internet.

Two of Donald’s more controversial federal judge nominees—and that’s saying something—will not be confirmed, says Chuck Grassley, head of the committee responsible for confirming them. Jeff Mateer—who called a transgender first grader part of “Satan’s plan”—and Brett Talley have made public comments that were racially and gender discriminatory, and Talley—who has practiced law for just three years and never tried a case—was nominated in a party-line vote despite being rated as “not qualified” by the American Bar Association. Donny, who hates it when he is doing so much losing, pulled his nominees—and may wind up pulling another, who couldn’t answer even the most basic legal questions in his nomination hearing.

federal judge smacked down Donald’s attempt to ban transgender people from military service, and beginning January 1 all people have equal rights to serve our country.

Meanwhile, while the GOP attacks Mueller and his investigation and tries to make it a partisan battle, in his testimony Wednesday, Deputy Director Rod Rosenstein, asked directly whether he had reason to fire Robert Mueller, stated simply and categorically, “No.”

And Donald Jr. spent nine hours (yep, nine) in cloistered testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee answering questions about Russia.

Donald’s campaign adviser (and conspiracy theorist) Roger Stone is working on a book called The Fall of Trump, predicting that Mueller and the many (17 at last count) sexual-harassment allegations against Donald will bring him down.

Donald’s own UN ambassador, Nikki Haley, weighed in against Donald to state that the women accusing him of sexual harassment should be heard. That didn’t sit well with the pussy-grabber-in-chief, who continues to deny the accusations brought by 13 women against him so far…despite his own admission to sexually predatory behavior on the Access Hollywood tapes.

Meanwhile, in the wake of senators Conyers and Franken leaving office over sexual harassment allegations, three senators have asked Donald to step down as result of all of his. Rep. Blake Farenthold of Texas—accused sexual predator and harasser—has announced he will not seek reelectionin 2018.

And—dare we hope it?—Paul Ryan is allegedly making rustlings about retiring from office as well.

Five Native American tribes are suing the federal government to prevent the stripping of 85 percent the formerly protected Bears Ears monument in Utah.

Donny’s approval ratings continue to tank, now down to 32 percent. Here’s a fact the hyperbole-loving Donald might appreciate: these are the lowest ratings for Donny ever. Tremendously low. Sad!

His popularity might be summed up by the normally neutral USA Today, who joined the chorus of voices declaring Donald is unfit for office, but went even further in an editorial, saying he is “uniquely awful. His sickening behavior is corrosive to the enterprise of a shared governance based on common values and the consent of the governed…. A president who’d all but call a senator a whore is unfit to clean toilets in Obama’s presidential library or to shine George W. Bush’s shoes.”

And with that, happy holidays to you all, and may Robert Mueller bring us something we all really, really want this year.

How Your Voices Are Making a Difference: Progress may be slow, but it’s steady

So…much…winning for Democratic candidates in Virginia, New Jersey, New York, and all across the country in state and city elections. In a rejection of racism, sexism, and bigotry, a transgender woman defeated the Republican candidate who wrote the “bathroom bill” discriminating against trans people in Virginia, and became the first openly transgender state legislator in American history; Minnesota elected the first trans person of color to city council; a New Jersey politician who cracked a sexist joke on social media about the Women’s March got beaten…by a woman; and Charlotte got its first black female mayorIn a rejection of ACA repeal, Maine voted to expand Medicaid within the state—residents of the state essentially overwhelmingly choosing to maintain Obamacare despite federal and Republican state legislators’ attempts to destroy it. (And Obamacare enrollment is up in general from previous years as the signup period begins.) A Colorado county elected seven anti-voucher candidates to the school board, a powerful repudiation of school choice (and Betsy DeVos).

Meanwhile, the recently revealed “Paradise Papers,” revealing offshore investments for dozens of prominent celebrities and other wealthy folk, provide direct evidence that Wilbur Ross, Secretary of Commerce, concealed information in his confirmation documents about his shared business interests with Putin’s immediate family. To translate: The man responsible for overseeing commerce regulations has a conflict of interest in which he can directly benefit from his own actions as commerce secretary. His office issued the feeble defense saying that he recuses himself as secretary from any matters regarding transoceanic shipping. In other fun news, he lied about his net worth—by billions—to make the Fortune 400 list of wealthiest Americans; he has now been removed by Fortune from the list. J

In ever-escalating Russia revelations, here’s a great breakdown of the nine people close to Donald who have been found to have strong ties to Russia, and exactly how they are enmeshed with the Kremlin. Lawyer Natalya Veselnitskaya is now singing away about the infamous “I love it!” meeting with Don Jr and Kushner, stating that the president’s son offered a change in laws regarding Russia if his father won office, but quickly detaching when he received no promised “dirt” on Clinton. Donald adviser Carter Page’s emails also elaborate on contacts between Donald’s campaign and Putin, and reveal even more highly placed advisers and insiders who were directly involved. Robert Mueller entered the weekend by apparently filing 34 additional sealed cases in federal court. (It’s like Christmas—I can’t wait to open them!) And look for Michael Flynn and his son to soon face indictment.

The American Bar Association unanimously deemed unqualified yet another of Donald’s nominees for a federal judgeship—the fourth one so far. (Yet despite that, and that he’s never tried a case, he was nonetheless approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee.)

Republicans are finally—finally—speaking out against Roy Moore and suggesting he step out of the Senate race in his home state—not for his past actions as a birtherism promoter, conspiracy theorist, anti-LGBTQ bigot who was removed as an Alabama supreme court judge twice for defying federal law to further his own religious and anti-gay biases, but in the wake of accusations that in his thirties he initiated sexual encounters with a 14-year-old girl. And the National Republican Senatorial Committee is withdrawing its joint fundraising efforts for his campaign. Moore denies all accusations and is refusing to step down.

If, as is tends to be the case with the GOP, Moore and his ilk do make it into the Senate, he and all other senators, staff, and interns will undergo mandatory sexual harassment training, after a bipartisan resolution passed Thursday.

This happened.

Both former presidents Bush have gone public to denounce Donny, Bush Sr. calling him a “blowhard.”

The latest polls are indicating promising results for Democrats in midterm elections—but only if you VOTE.

Notice that these good-news lists are getting longer, even as Amy Siskind’s exhaustive weekly roundup of signs of authoritarianism get disturbingly more extensive. Hang in there and keep fighting…progress may be slow, but it’s steady.

Use this tool to find your Facebook friends in Alabama and tell them to VOTE

There is a special election in Alabama on December 12th, to fill the Senate seat formerly occupied by Jeff Sessions. The choice in this election could not be more stark. And while the GOP thought this seat was safe, it absolutely is not–especially with the latest allegations that GOP nominee Roy Moore engaged in sex with a minor.

Use the links below to find friends in major metro areas in Alabama and then tell them to VOTE on December 12.

Find Facebook friends in Auburn

Find Facebook friends in Anniston

Find Facebook friends in Birmingham

Find Facebook friends in Daphne

Find Facebook friends in Decatur

Find Facebook friends in Dothan

Find Facebook friends in Fairhope

Find Facebook friends in Florence

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Find Facebook friends in Huntsville

Find Facebook friends in Mobile

Find Facebook friends in Montgomery

Find Facebook friends in Muscle Shoals

Find Facebook friends in Opelika

Find Facebook friends in Oxford

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Other ways to help GOTV in Alabama

Join Indivisible Alabama’s #FlipAlabama campaign!


Text HELLO to 484-ASK-ABBY to get started writing postcards to voters in Alabama

This list will be updated, so keep checking back. 

Send postcards! (Feel free to use our Trump Tax Scam postcard)






Tell your friends in Virginia to VOTE!

Today is election day. The stakes are relatively low in Texas, but could not be higher in the state of Virginia. Use the links below to find your Facebook friends in the major metro areas of Virginia, and then tell them to get out and vote!

Find friends in Arlington

Find friends in Alexandria

Find friends in Blacksburg

Find friends in Charlottesville

Find friends in Danville

Find friends in Harrisonburg

Find friends in Lynchburg

Find friends in Newport News

Find friends in Richmond

Find friends in Roanoke

Find friends in Virginia Beach

Find friends in Winchester

And for the Texas ballot, here’s info on the constitutional amendments.

National Voter Registration Day Events in Austin

Tuesday, Sept. 26 is National Voter Registration Day.

It’s also important to note that Oct. 10 is the last day to get registered before November 2017 elections (which in Travis County will be mostly ballot issues).

Here are a few voter-registration drives happening around town. You can find more on the official website.

Travis County Democratic Party

WHEN: 10 AM–2 PM, Tuesday, September 26
WHERE: Joe’s Bakery, 2305 E 7th St., Austin, TX 78702

Your Vote, Your Voice Block Party

WHEN: 4 PM–6 PM, Tuesday, September 26
WHERE: Planned Parenthood Clinic, 1823 E 7th St. Austin, TX 78702

Repro Power Austin Speak Out

WHEN: 6 PM–8 PM, Wednesday, September 27
WHERE: Austin City Hall

Why We Fight Gerrymandering

Democracy in America is in trouble. All across the political spectrum, Americans feel alienated from their government. They find it distant, ineffective, corrupt, and interested primarily in serving the powerful at the expense of everyone else. Many millions have given up in frustration, feeling powerless to do anything. Others have embraced partisan warfare, turning our politics into a zero-sum battle for total dominance. The spirit of compromise is seldom seen, and idealistic belief in the promise of democratic self-rule seems almost hopelessly naïve. These are the conditions under which authoritarians rise and republics fall — believing the system has failed them, people look to strongmen for salvation.

The promise of a “great leader” is a false one; only we can fix what is broken. The Founders created this government to serve us, the American people, and if the government is failing in that service, it is our responsibility to do something about it. Fatalism, hopelessness, and nihilism get us nowhere — we must recommit ourselves to the ideals and hard work of democratic self-rule and take the system back for ourselves. The task seems almost impossibly huge, but this is America — there is nothing our can-do spirit and grit can’t overcome. A huge task such as this requires that we choose a place to start: to fix our broken politics, we must first take back control of our elections, and to do that we must put an end to partisan gerrymandering.

“A huge task such as this requires that we choose a place to start: to fix our broken politics, we must first take back control of our elections, and to do that we must put an end to partisan gerrymandering.”

First, a brief primer for those unfamiliar with gerrymandering. Every 10 years, the federal government conducts the census, after which seats in Congress are re-apportioned among the states based on relative shifts in population. After each census, the states undertake the process of redistricting — new election district maps are re-drawn to account for the change in the number of seats. In practice, all the districts, state and Congressional, are subject to change, so the district maps can change significantly every 10 years.

Our system of redistricting is inherently corrupt: the party that controls the state legislature draws the boundaries of the districts for every state and federal elected official. As you might imagine, the party in power uses this authority to draw maps that magnify its own power and weaken that of its opposition, often resulting in monstrously bizarre districts; the first such district was called the “Gerrymander,” and that name has come to describe any district drawn with absurd boundaries that serve partisan ends. Texas, as it turns out, has been one of the worst offenders — for decades, Democrats drew shamelessly gerrymandered districts, and Republicans are now returning the favor with a vengeance.

As an example of the power of partisan gerrymandering, consider the effect of Texas’ 2003 off-cycle redistricting, engineered by Tom DeLay. Prior to the redistricting, Democrats held 17 Congressional seats to Republicans’ 15; after the election following the redistricting, Republicans controlled 21 seats to the Democrats’ 11, a 6 seat swing. This huge swing was not the result of changes in population or a wave of political change; it was due almost entirely to how lines were drawn on a map. This is what happens when legislators are allowed to choose their voters.

“This huge swing was not the result of changes in population or a wave of political change; it was due almost entirely to how lines were drawn on a map.”

Partisan gerrymandering has tremendously corrosive effects upon our democratic system. Its tainted process and the absurd districts it produces are tangible evidence to the electorate that the system is rigged, eroding their faith in our elections. Gerrymandered districts can span hundreds of miles, joining together dissimilar communities with no real connection, resulting in “representatives” who represent little beyond raw, partisan power. The near-certainty of incumbent reelection in gerrymandered districts depresses turnout, discourages challengers from running, and contributes to elections being determined by small percentages of voters in increasingly partisan primaries. Artificially large legislative majorities are constructed, producing skewed policy outcomes and a false impression of ideological dominance. Partisan gerrymandering is a perversion of democracy, sacrificing fair elections and faithful representation to partisan advantage and the will to power.

This corrupt process has always been a problem in American politics, but the need to end it is greater now than it has ever been. The advent of Big Data and sophisticated statistical analysis have made it possible for parties to combine electoral, demographic, and consumer preference information in a way that allows them to predict with great accuracy how people will vote down to an almost individual level. The result is partisan gerrymanders of exceptional precision and durability, endowing dominant parties with artificially large majorities that are stable, even in the face of large changes in voter preference. These technical capabilities have only advanced since the 2010 redistricting, promising to make the next round of partisan redistricting even worse.

“Victory is possible: over 70% of Americans oppose partisan gerrymandering regardless of their political affiliation.”

We must act now, or risk America becoming a democracy in name only. This fight will not be short or easy — powerful entrenched interests in both parties do not want to surrender the power and security they gain from this corrupt system. Victory is possible: over 70% of Americans oppose partisan gerrymandering regardless of their political affiliation. Defending this system of institutionalized cheating is impossible, and no elected official wants to do it. If we are loud enough, organized enough, and persistent enough, we can force our representatives to publicly answer the question they do not want to hear: will you end partisan gerrymandering, or will you defend it? Faced with defending the indefensible, their system will crumble and we will take our first step in reclaiming the republic for the people.

Call to Action:

Call Cindy Burkett, chair of House Redistricting Committee, and Joe Straus, Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives about Congressional district Redistricting. Ask why there aren’t hearings being held on bills that could end hyper-partisan, racist gerrymandering of Congressional districts in Texas. Bills awaiting hearing in committee are HJR 32/HB 369, HJR 74, and HJR 118. NONE of the redistricting bills introduced over the past 4 cycles have been called to hearing. That means that in the past 8 years, every effort to de-gerrymander Texas has been ignored.

Thanks to Degerrymander Texas. More info here.

Additional Voter Registration Training Classes Available

Two new voter registration training classes have been added for us! Get trained to register voters in Travis County (plus, thanks to a  reciprocal agreement with Williamson County, you will be able to get a certificate to register there as well).


Training dates are April 15 and May 20th 10 am to 11:30 at the First UU Church, 4700 Grover Ave, Austin, TX 78756.

Train to Register Voters!

There is an easy way to help expand the voter rolls in Travis County and beyond. You can become a Volunteer Deputy Registrar (VDR) of voters. With 159 people a day (net) moving to the Austin area, according to this report, it is imperative that we stay on top of voter registrations.

Regularly schedule VDR training at the Travis County Tax Office, 5501 Airport Blvd, Austin, TX 78751 is the first Tuesday of each month with session scheduled 10:30-11:30 am, 12:30-1:30 pm, and 6:30-7:30 pm. Call 512.854.9473 for more information.

Training only takes about an hour and thanks to our awesome Travis County Registrar of Voters staff, they have recently made available to us a number of additional training days. Please take advantage of this training as soon as you can. Once trained, your VDR credentials are good through December 2018! What’s more, if you like, you can take advantage of the generous reciprocal VDR opportunity with Williamson County, so that you can register voters who live in that county as well.

So, you’ll know how to respond the next time a coworker mentions that they just moved to a new apartment over the weekend or you get introduced to a new employee who just moved here from out of state. You can ask, “Are you registered to vote at your current address?” And you can make it easy for them to get registered!

Each training session requires an RSVP so that they can have the correct number of materials available. Below are the next three special training days. Sign up now!