My Texas, My Choice

A no-bullshit guide to voting and promoting reproductive rights in Texas.

October 6, 2014 at 2:26 pm

Listen up, POME readers. We are aware that most of you are Texans, and that is what I’m counting on here. We need you to know that today is the last day to register to vote before the November election. The Governor’s race has never been more critical and you really need to make sure you’re on top of your game. Do you want to change Texas? I ventured over to a rally for reproductive rights on Friday to give you some ideas about how to get involved.

 

Disclaimer

I’m not here to tell you who to vote for, though I would be thrilled if you voted for Wendy Davis because I am tired of living in an anti-choice wasteland. I’m not here to tell you what to believe, but this article is about pro-choice issues and any debates about the morality of abortion in the comment section will be deleted because we are power-hungry tyrants and blah blah blah I don’t care. Do you want to add a tip or resource to my list? Yes, please. Did I describe an organization or political thing inaccurately? Please call me out. Do you want to express enthusiasm for what we’re doing here? Please do! I have a very fragile ego! But this article isn’t about whether or not abortion should be legal because if you didn’t quite catch the first paragraph, that’s not what this article is about. Save it for another time and place.

We are living in a really crucial time right now. We live in a ruthlessly gerrymandered state, where the voices of the few are exaggerated to represent the voices of the many. The implementation of voter ID laws leave many Texans unable to vote – not everyone has a car, legal IDs are expensive, and taking the 90 bajillion hours out of your day necessary to get a free voting ID at the DMV can be impossible for some people. Our legislature denied Medicaid expansion on principle, which is wonderful considering the ridiculously large percentage of uninsured Texans. Also, the omnibus abortion bill HB2 went into full effect this last Friday, closing several clinics and leaving us with only 8 remaining abortion providers in this state.

Look, thinking about this stuff is scary daunting. If you are anything like me, you’re sitting around in a blind panic thinking, “What can I do? If my rights are getting stepped on at every level, is there really any way I can change things, when others haven’t been able to so far?” That is how I felt before listening to and chatting with dozens of kick-ass reproductive health activists on Friday. So let’s get started. I’m not going to give you any nebulous advice. Every tip listed here is an actual thing that will make a difference, I promise. So, you and me, let’s work through this together, okay?

 

The Most Obvious Thing You Can Do: Vote

I know you’ve probably heard this before, but you really, really gotta vote. It’s the first and most important step. Yeah, our state is kind of a ridiculous clusterfuck when it comes to gerrymandering, but as many activists have said in the past few months, Texas is a non-voting state. So for the love of god, make sure your friends, cousins, coworkers, and coven members all complete their voter’s registration by TODAY.

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I mean seriously, can you believe this shit?

Register to Vote

There are several ways to register to vote today.  You can:

Go somewhere with voter’s registration. This will vary by city, but generally, you can go to your county tax office to complete a registration.

If you live in Austin/Travis County, all Thundercloud Subs locations will have voter’s registration all day today.

You can also mail in your voter’s registration.  Often, your local library or post office will have voter’s registration forms. Put that bad boy in the mail before your post office’s last delivery so it is postmarked with today’s date!

Don’t know if you’ve registered?

Check to see if you have registered to vote online.

If You Have Already Registered to Vote, Ever

If you’ve already registered to vote sometime in the past, this will be much easier for you. I am going to assume you are all Texans for this step – sorry, out-of-state friends.

Your address should be updated to where you currently live, and if you are a married person who changed your name, you need to make sure your registration matches your new name. Your address does not need to match the address of your current legal ID, but it does need to be where you are residing right now.

If you moved within the same county, you can update your name and/or address through the Texas Secretary of State Office’s Voter Name and Address Change page.

You have to enter your Voter Registration Card VUID (Voter Unique Identifier). This should be on the voter’s registration receipt you should have received from the deputy registrar. If you don’t remember it, don’t worry. Many counties offer an online VUID lookup, such as Travis county and Harris county. Check your county’s tax office’s website to see if they will let you look up your VUID.

 

Alright, alright. I’m registered to vote. What else can I do?

 

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“Solidarity is so much more than a Facebook post,” Lesli Simms, a Field Organizer with Planned Parenthood Texas Votes, said in a speech at Friday’s rally. There are so many organizations that could use your help (or money) right now, so I’m going to list a few.

Political Organizations that need volunteers or donations right now:

Battleground Texas : supports democratic candidates in Texas.

Annie’s List: supports progressive women in Texas politics. Donate and help these candidates in the upcoming election.

The Wendy Davis campaign: Democratic candidate for Texas Governor.

The Leticia Van De Putte campaign: Democratic candidate for Texas Lt. Governor.
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Reproductive Health Organizations that need your help or money right now:

HB2 is in full effect. We are no longer dealing with hypothetical problems – real women all across this state lack access to reproductive health-care and now is the time to act. Donate what you can, when you can, so that access to abortion isn’t just a right for those with means.  There are so many organizations that need help right now, but here are a few that need you the most.

TEA Fund: Helps fund abortions for those in North Texas. Donate. Volunteer.

Lilith Fund: Helps fund abortions for those in most of the rest of Texas. Donate. Volunteer.

Fund Texas Choice: Helps pay for travel costs associated with reaching a clinic including transportation and lodging. Donate.

Bridge Collective: Located in Austin, supports those who are pregnant regardless of whether or not they are seeking an abortion. (Donation page coming soon). Volunteer.

Cicada Collective: Located in North Texas, queer and trans* people of color-centered organization that provides reproductive resources. Donate. Volunteer – no upcoming trainings right now.

 

Finally: Get Informed And Help Others

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I spoke with two staff members from NARAL Pro-Choice Texas about the best ways that people can get involved. “One of the most concrete things people can do is to get informed and inform others about their reproductive rights and their rights here in Texas,” said NARAL Executive Director Heather Busby. Amelia Long, NARAL Development Director, elaborated:

“If you are interested in making a difference on reproductive rights in the state of Texas, [you can help by] spending some of your free time learning about access to abortion and what’s going on with sex ed, what’s going on with prenatal care, all of the situations in Texas where people aren’t accessing the care that they need to have healthy lives and healthy families – that’s really a big thing, to learn about that and be informed.”

If you are looking for ways to arm yourself with knowledge, there are a few sites you can use to keep abreast of repro health or repro rights issues. Namely:

RH Reality Check: A thorough reproductive rights news site that covers literally every single pro-choice issue as it happens. Austin blogger Andrea Grimes often covers the Texas issues.

Jessica Luther’s blog: Jessica Luther is a pro-choice blogger who is always at the forefront of every major reproductive rights issue in Texas. She blogs about a lot of stuff but following her blog and Twitter are great ways to know what’s going on.

NARAL Pro-Choice Texas: The “political arm of the pro-choice movement in Texas,” NARAL informs, investigates, lobbies, and just generally fights the political fight for reproductive rights in Texas.

I hope you register to vote or donate your time or money to a pro-choice organization today. I hope that you take these steps with me because now is the time to take them. Things are changing in this state, but not fast enough for the thousands of people who are now lacking safe reproductive health-care. So go ahead, go get a sub at Thundercloud today, and don’t forget to fill out your voter registration while you’re there. This November, we are going to need you, and none of us can make a difference on our own.

Carolynn Calabrese

If you prick your finger and write “Cat Fancy” on your mirror during a harvest moon, CC will appear behind you and make you put human clothes on your pets. CC is Head Crone in Charge at POMEgranate Magazine, as well as the co-host of Moon Podcast Power MAKE UP!!