Texas Has The Most Black Voters Of All The States, So This Voting Initiative Aims To Ensure All Of These Voices Are Heard
The initiative also aims to send at least 950,000 texts to Black voters by early August.
July 27, 2020 at 2:08 pm
Community organizers in Texas will be making over a million phone calls in the next month as part of an effort to reach out to Black voters in the state. The Texas Democratic Party partnered with Beto O'Rourke’s Powered By People political group and the Texas Coalition of Black Democrats to organize the Joint Black Voter Outreach Program, which encourages Black residents to take part in the November election.
In a statement to Blavity, Serita Robinson, the Black constituency organizer for the Texas Democratic Party, said there are 1.5 million Black voters in Texas, which is the most of any state in the country.
“Black voters vote overwhelmingly Democratic, but are often underrepresented in outreach and investments by political groups,” Robinson stated. “Harnessing the Black vote is a key for Texas Democrats to win up and down the ballot in November.”
In addition to setting a goal of calling more than a million residents, the Joint Black Voter Outreach Program also aims to send at least 950,000 texts to Black voters by early August.
“There are 1,534,882 African American voters in Texas. We have phone numbers or landlines for 1,121,616 of them,” the Texas Democratic Party stated. “We will contact every voter via either text message or call during the week of this campaign.”
The organizers said part of the goal is to demonstrate their commitment to Black voters and to focus on “elevating the voices of Black candidates.” In an era of sustained protests in response to the killing of George Floyd and all other victims of police brutality and racial injustice, the outcome of the November election will be a key predictor as to whether these demonstrations will lead to tangible national policy reforms.
“With the social upheaval that we are seeing across the country and Texas, along with Black Americans realizing the power of our movement and the power of our voices, there has never been a more important time to come together and support our community,” the Texas Democratic Party stated.
The outreach program plans to make sure eligible Black voters sign up to vote by mail, to encourage unregistered Black voters to register and to identify support among Black voters for voting the entire Democratic ticket.
“Make no mistake about it, Black voters are the backbone of the Texas Democratic Party,” the organizers stated.
The Joint Black Voter Outreach Program is the latest advocacy effort from the groups involved in the project. Powered by People, for example, has been actively involved in voting initiatives since the beginning of the year, The Texas Tribune reported. O'Rourke launched the political action committee shortly after he dropped out of the presidential race with the goal of bringing together “volunteers from around the state to work on the most important races in Texas."
“Powered by People will organize grassroots volunteers to do the tough, necessary work that wins elections: registering Texans to vote (especially those that have just moved to Texas and those who are just turning 18), knocking on their doors, making phone calls, and connecting the dots so that we all understand that in order to make progress on the issues we care most about — like gun violence, healthcare and climate — we will have to register, volunteer and vote," O'Rourke said in December.
The Texas Coalition of Black Democrats has been involved in the community for decades, according to the group’s website. In addition to encouraging Black residents to participate in governmental affairs, the organization promotes economic development.
“Democrats can win Texas this November, and we will win it with increased Black voter turnout,” the coalition stated. “This statewide outreach to Black Texans will be foundational to the success of Texas Democrats this November. It is a precedent that should be replicated nationally by the DNC and Joe Biden's presidential campaign.”
The Texas Democratic Party has been hosting virtual campaign events during the pandemic, according to KXAN. Jill Biden, the wife of the Democratic frontrunner, took part in the latest virtual event.
“Even before the pandemic, Texas Democrats were focused on meeting voters where they’re at, whether that was in their local community or was online,” Brittany Switzer, senior brand manager for the Texas Democratic Party, told KXAN. “Those are things that have been strategic imperatives for us to meet voters where they’re at. We definitely aren’t seeing that on the Republican side.”
According to The Tribune, many Black voters in the state were undecided early in the year. James Douglas, a professor at Texas Southern University, said the Black voters he talked to didn’t know who they’re voting for.
“It’s clear [Biden] has not been as aggressive as people thought he would be,” Douglas told The Tribune earlier this year. “People are looking for individuals who are willing to get in the pit and fight Trump.”
However, a new poll showed that Black voters don’t trust President Donald Trump when it comes to race relations. The University of Texas and the Texas Politics Project published the poll earlier this month, showing that 80% of Black Texans disapprove of Trump’s approach to issues of race.
The Joint Black Voter Outreach Program plans to continue working hard in the next few months to make sure more Black voters favor the Democratic Party.
“The Texas Democratic Party couldn’t be more thrilled to partner with Powered By People and the Texas Coalition of Black Democrats to launch the most expansive Black voter contact program in Texas history,” the Texas Democratic Party stated. “For too long, Black voters have been underrepresented in outreach and investment by organizations that haven’t truly harnessed or understood the power of the Black vote.”