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Lecture Notes on Texas Political Participation-1.doc -...

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Lecture Notes forGOVT2306POLITICAL PARTIES, VOTING, ELECTIONS,AND INTEREST GROUPSPOLITICAL PARTIESI.Party StructureApolitical partycan be defined as an organization influenced by politicalideology whose primary purpose is to gain control of government bywinning elections. The two major parties are organized at four levels:national, state, county, and precinct. Each major party is loosely organized,so that state and local party organizations are free to decide their positionson party issues. As mandated by the Texas Election Code, Texas’s twomajor parties are alike in structure.A.Temporary Party OrganizationThetemporary party organizationsare the conventions andprimaries conducted by the parties. Due to the court battleinvolving redistricting, both party’s primaries were affected andthe usual March election date was moved back to May. This inturn, affected each party’s convention as well.1.Precinct Conventions. Precinct conventionsare open tomembers of the party who have voted earlier in the day atthe first primary or in early voting. Precinct conventionsoccur every even-numbered year on the first Tuesday inMarch. Delegates and alternates are selected to attend thenext higher party convention with resolutions to considerfor the party platform.2.County and District Conventions.The delegates andalternates selected at the precinct conventions meet at thecounty conventionordistrict convention(if there is morethan one senatorial district in the county, there will be aseparate convention for each one). State law requires thatboth conventions occur the third Saturday after the precinctconventions, normally eleven days after the primaryelection. At this convention, delegates and alternates areselected to attend the state convention, taking the approvedresolutions with them. At the conventions, the resolutions
are non-binding, but oftentimes those resolutions end upbecoming actual legislation passed by the Texas legislature.3.State Conventions.In June of even-numbered years, eachTexas political party must hold a biennialstate convention.At the convention, delegates: select the state party chair,vice chair, and members of the state executive committee;draft a party platform; and recognize the nominees selectedin the primary elections. They also write rules for the party,adopt a party platform, and adopt resolutions. If it is apresidential year, state convention delegates also selectdelegates and alternates to attend the national conventionand potential members of the electoral college.B.Selection of National Convention DelegatesSelection of delegates to a national party convention depends ontheir support for particular candidates for the party’s presidentialnomination. Selection is done either by primary or caucus. In apresidential preference primary, rank-and-file party memberscan vote directly for the presidential candidates of their choice. In acaucus,party members choose national convention delegates who

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