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.