Straus to teachers: we can’t let voter-intimidation tactics work

With early voting continuing in the March 6 primaries through Friday, March 2, Texas House Speaker Joe Straus has a good idea for teachers and school staff targeted by would-be intimidators, who don’t want you to exercise your right to take part in the primary of your choice. In a statement emailed far and wide late last week, he said:

Early voting in the Republican and Democratic primary elections is underway….I hope you can take a few minutes to vote in these critical contests.

I’ve often said that we need more Texans voting in primaries so that candidates are responsive and accountable to a broader set of Texans and their concerns. Unfortunately, some elected leaders in Austin and their allies have been trying to discourage voting among one important group of Texans: School teachers.

Some members of our community have received a letter from an Austin special interest group criticizing local school leaders for promoting a “culture of voting.” This group apparently feels threatened by the fact that education leaders are encouraging civic participation.

It’s easy to understand why educators and others who support public schools want to vote. Those of us who have prioritized public education have been met with resistance from other elected leaders. As a result, our school finance system still desperately needs reform, and the lack of state dollars going into public education is driving local property taxes higher and higher.

We can’t let these voter-intimidation tactics work. Teachers, parents, taxpayers and all Texans need to be heard from during this election season. And there’s no time to act like the present. Early voting continues every day through Friday, March 2. If you can’t vote early, the polls will also be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. March 6. Also, please share this email with others who may need to be reminded that some critical elections are happening right now.

Put me down as supporting a culture of voting, among teachers and all eligible Texans.