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22 Jan
0

TRTA “Good Voter Health” Series: Day 3

Day 3: I’ve Researched the Candidates. Is My Work as a Voter Done?

Welcome to Day 3 of the Texas Retired Teachers Association “Good Voter Health” Series! On Monday, we discussed the voter registration process and checking your voter status. If you missed this article, be sure to visit the Texas Secretary of State website to determine if you are registered to vote: https://team1.sos.state.tx.us/voterws/viw/faces/SearchSelectionVoter.jsp.

Yesterday, TRTA focused on the importance of the primary elections. Most elections in Texas are determined DURING THE PRIMARIES, not the November general election! While it is important to vote in ALL elections, many voters do not make it to the polls for the primaries. Be sure to put early voting for the primaries on your schedule: February 18-28, 2014! Remember, because so few people vote in the primaries, EVERY VOTE COUNTS. Your vote WILL make a difference!

We also asked our members to review the candidates running for office in their area. A complete list of elections is available through the Texas Tribune Elections Bracket feature: http://www.texastribune.org/2014/elections/brackets/. Find out who your candidates are for the Texas House and Senate, and ask them those three vital questions about TRS:

  • Do you support a defined benefit plan for all current and future TRS retirees?
  • Do you support providing reasonable, affordable healthcare for TRS retirees?
  • What will you do as my legislator to ensure that the TRS pension fund and TRS–Care health insurance program are preserved and improved?

If you have contacted your candidates already, and determined who your candidate of choice is, your work as a voter may not be done! Though not all members of TRTA are politically active, we encourage our members to participate in the legislative process as much as possible.

You may be asking yourself: What can I do to support the candidate of your choice? Consider the following activities as part of your legislative activities over the next few weeks:

  • Volunteer to work for the candidate of your choice
  • Call the campaign and ask for a yard sign
  • Give permission for the campaign to put large campaign sign on your highly visible, highly trafficked property
  • Allow the campaign to use your name as endorsing your candidate
  • Sign up for campaign emails and pass them on to friends and colleagues
  • “Friend” your candidate on Facebook, and encourage others to do the same
  • E-mail and telephone your friends and family and encourage them to support your candidate (make it a goal to speak to at least 10 people every day about voting for your candidate)
  • Volunteer to walk your neighborhood to distribute campaign material for your candidate
  • If you are able, contribute money to help pay for campaign expenses
  • Ask the campaign if they have personal endorsement post cards you can use to mail to your friends and family. (Most campaigns are happy to pay for the postage if you will address and sign the cards to send out). Your personal endorsement makes a strong statement to your friends and family, and helps them feel confident about voting for the person you recommend
  • Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper about why you support your candidate of choice

As you know, TRTA does not endorse candidates for political office, but this does not mean our members cannot participate as fully as possible in the legislative process. We will not tell you who to vote for, but we will always encourage you to ask the questions listed above and choose a candidate that supports the interests of public education retirees and pre-retirees.

If your candidate does NOT support sustaining the TRS defined benefit plan or the TRS-Care health insurance program, or you think your candidate needs additional education about these issues, please let us know! TRTA will contact the candidate and provide him or her with educational material.

You can also download informative documents at our website here: https://trta.org/index.cfm/legislation/trta-legislative-initiative/. The Resource Guide is great for providing a background on both the pension fund and TRS-Care. Revisiting the Legislative Training Initiative (2013 Update) is important for candidates who want to know what changes occurred for TRS and its members during the 83rd Legislative Session.

TRTA is a strong grassroots organization with 80,000 members! Our strength derives from the voices of our members: that’s YOU! We encourage you to get involved in the legislative process and find a method of participating in elections that reflects your interests. Tomorrow, during Day 4 of our “Good Voter Health” series, we will discuss encouraging others to get out and VOTE!

Thank you for being a member of TRTA! If you are not a member and are interested in joining, please contact our Membership Department at 1.800.880.1650.

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21 Jan
0

TRTA “Good Voter Health” Series: Day 2

Day 2: The Importance of the Primary Election and Who Is Running for Office in Your Area

Welcome to the Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) series on “Good Voter Health” Day 2! Yesterday, TRTA focused on the importance of being registered to vote and provided valuable, informative links for our members to check their registration status. As a reminder, if you are not sure of your voter registration status, please check the Secretary of State website TODAY: https://team1.sos.state.tx.us/voterws/viw/faces/SearchSelectionVoter.jsp.

Yesterday, TRTA briefly mentioned the importance of the primary elections. Our members need to know that the vast majority of elections in Texas are determined in the primaries. In legislative races, the November general election does not matter that much! Your power as a voter is amplified in primary elections simply because so many other people choose not to vote.

Many of you may consider not voting in a primary because the person most likely to win in the general election is not from the political party you most closely identify with. If you are in this situation but you do not want another influential interest group to take away your power in the November general election, consider voting in the OPPOSITE party primary and choosing a candidate you believe may be friendlier to TRTA issues.

TRTA is not suggesting that you disregard your political ideals or that you vote for someone you do not support; however, the primary process offers a choice of candidates, some of whom may support the TRTA legislative agenda. If you think your vote may be better used in this way, this may be a winning strategy for gaining support for TRTA issues during legislative session.

Some TRTA members may agree with the likely victorious political party in their area. This does not mean, however, that the person winning the primary is the person you want representing you on vital TRTA legislative issues.

It is easy to take for granted that the candidate we would vote for willbe elected, but we must remember that when a candidate faces a challenger in the primary, the vote could go either way! If TRTA does not exercise its resources –the voices of 80,000 retirees—our allies in the Texas Legislature or candidates asking for a chance to serve and protect your TRS benefits may be defeated.

You may know someone who served in the Legislature previously that is no longer serving due to the results of a primary election. Because so few people cast a vote in the primary elections, these races can be determined by just a handful of votes! This means YOUR VOTE IN THE PRIMARY MATTERS.

Every vote cast in a primary election makes a difference!

TRTA does not endorse candidates for political office, but has a reputation for working across party lines to establish strong relationships with legislators for the good of TRS and its 300,000+ retirees. But we also know that many groups are still beating the drum to do away with our defined benefit retirement plan. We know that some challengers to elected officials in primary elections are being supported by groups that want to do away with our retirement system.

It is up to us to do our due diligence and ask candidates the tough questions about TRS!

Because your retirement benefits affect your livelihood, you owe it to yourself to find out the answers to the following questions from ALL candidates in your area:

  • Do you support a defined benefit plan for all current and future TRS retirees?
  • Do you support providing reasonable, affordable healthcare for TRS retirees?
  • What will you do as my legislator to ensure that the TRS pension fund and TRS–Care health insurance program are preserved and improved?

Please feel free to report back to TRTA with any responses you receive, both positive and negative. Send an email to info@trta.orgwith the subject line “Elections.” It is also worthwhile to share the feedback you receive from candidates with other education retirees.

Remember this too: regardless of who you vote for, there will be many new legislators joining the Texas Legislature in 2015. Several Senators and Representatives retired or chose to run for other offices, including the head of the Pensions Committee Representative Bill Callegari. There were also 50 new legislators in 2013. This means that nearly half of the entire legislative body in Texas will have less than two years of experience once the 84th Legislative Session begins!

Who is Running for Office in My Area?

As former educators, let us educate ourselves and all candidates running for office in Texas! Make a commitment to contact the candidates in your area and ask them the questions listed above.

Use the Texas Tribune Elections Bracket feature to determine who is running for office in your area: http://www.texastribune.org/2014/elections/brackets/. The easiest way to find races that affect you is to use the search by zip code feature near the top right-hand side of the page.

Remember, early voting for the primary elections begins February 18, 2014 and continues through February 28, 2014. Primary election day is March 4. We encourage members to vote early if possible, and to begin researching their candidates NOW!

Tomorrow, stay tuned for information about how you can get more involved in the political process by reading our “Good Voter Health” Day 3 article!

Thank you for being a member of TRTA! If you are not a member and are interested in joining, please contact our Membership Department at 1.800.880.1650.

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20 Jan
0

TRTA “Good Voter Health” Series: Day 1

Day 1: Are You Registered to Vote?

The Texas Retired Teachers Association (TRTA) is focused on the election season, and our members should be too! This week, TRTA is providing a series of articles through the Inside Lineabout “Good Voter Health.” What do we mean by good voter health? While there are several key factors in exercising your voter muscle, the first is always that you VOTE!

Many races are decided in the primary elections, but few voters turn out for these spring races. TRTA is here to tell its members that voting in the primary election is more than just important, it is vital! Early voting for the primary elections begins on February 18, 2014 and continues through February 28, 2014. Primary election day is Tuesday, March 4.

Before you can vote in the primary elections, you must be registered to vote! Today, we encourage ALL TRTA MEMBERS to answer this question for themselves: Am I registered to vote?

To confirm your voter registration status, please visit this link provided by the Texas Secretary of State website:  https://team1.sos.state.tx.us/voterws/viw/faces/SearchSelectionVoter.jsp. Have your driver’s license handy when using this website.

What if I need or want to change my name on my voter registration?

You can also use the Secretary of State site to update your name on your voter registration record. TRTA has received phone calls from members expressing concern about having a different name on their driver’s licenses than what appears on their voter registration cards. If this issue concerns you, please address it NOW. Use the following link to make name changes: https://txapps.texas.gov/tolapp/sos/SOSACManager.

I’m not registered! What do I do?

If you are not registered to vote, REGISTER TODAY! Please use the link that follows to register as soon as possible: https://webservices.sos.state.tx.us/vrapp/index.asp.

I have a question about my voter registration that hasn’t been answered by the Secretary of State website. Who can I contact?

If you are still experiencing difficulties with your voter registration, please contact your County Election Administrator. A complete list of county election administrators and their contact information can be found at this link: http://www.sos.state.tx.us/elections/voter/county.shtml.

Where do I vote?

If you are already registered to vote, use today to begin researching voting locations. Remember, if you are voting early, you do not have to vote in your precinct. Consider the time you have available between February 18 through February 28 and determine if you can place your vote on one of those days instead of the busier election day, March 4. Registered and eligible voters may vote at ANY early voting location located in the county of residence.

Check with your Early Voting Clerk at the County Election Administrators office to determine locations within your county where early voting will take place. http://www.sos.state.tx.us/elections/voter/county.shtml

Tomorrow, TRTA will focus on the importance of primary elections and researching candidates for political office during Day 2 of our “Good Voter Health” series! Thank you for being a member of TRTA! If you are not a member and are interested in joining, please contact our Membership Department at 1.800.880.1650.

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