José Garza's rally February 2024, Jay P in the foreground
José Garza's rally February 2024, Jay P in the foreground

Who’s Voted? Have you?

by Jay P., Electoral Coordinator

Today, March 5, is our primary election here in Travis County.

Who’s voted for our chapter-endorsed candidate, District Attorney José Garza? Have you?

There’s a list of voting locations available at The good news is, if you have been to any of them, odds are that you had minimal wait time.

If you haven’t been yet, here’s some bad news: turnout through the early voting period was below 6% of registered voters in Travis County.

Here’s some good news: Travis County has got all the voters we need to win, they just happen to have been sitting on their asses this whole time. Travis County Democrats have stood by past electoral efforts towards goals like humane workplace safety regulations, criminal justice reform in 2020, and last year with the police oversight passed with Yes on A/No on B. 

Back to the bad news: as of last Friday, roughly 20% of people who voted in the Democratic primary were GOP crossovers and therefore obvious, rock-solid locks for the opponent. 

This is at least 5,800 votes the opponent had, as of last week. The right is aware that the top of our ballot is rotten. They know that local races rarely make noise in an uncontested presidential primary, and they think they can win it on the cheap. The sole candidate running in the GOP primary has said people should vote for the opponent. How the two differ in any particular way, he has not said.

Their strategy has been relentless, defamatory, and disgusting. You’ve probably seen their attack ads, but you may not have heard about the grotesque intimidation and harassment of our canvassers by the opponent’s supporters. If what they have said and done has been enough to give you pause, if you haven’t done anything yet, then I’m sad to report that they got you. If this situation holds, I can see the coverage on March 6th: “Local reformer has a few good years,” “Back to Business,” “DSA in Disarray: Lots of enthusiasts, short attention spans”. I’m not too proud to say these imagined headlines have been screaming at me for weeks.

Some history: in 2020, we worked in coalition to elect a candidate who represented a courageous and meaningful break with the past. This coalition began in 2017 as our campaign with local labor, the Worker’s Defense Project, and other community groups to win paid sick leave. In his original campaign for District Attorney, not only did José promise and pursue accountability for the violence and recklessness exercised by the Austin Police Department, its leadership, and others in response to the 2020 racial justice protest; he has overseen a double-digit drop in violent and property crimes, making Austin one of the safest big cities in the country (no matter what you heard from the online right). 

We have achieved this by focusing the office’s resources where they matter most: at the root causes of crime, especially violent crime, in our community. He has endorsed and supported ambitious mental health and criminal diversion programs because we know they work where the incarceration first (incarceration-only) policies of the past haven’t and won’t. He has partnered with local trade unions to connect people with apprenticeship opportunities that can address the same poverty and day-to-day insecurity of being without a good job and a strong union to back you up against the bosses. And the bosses, finally, let’s never forget the bosses—I am certain they would love to see our home-grown Economic Justice Enforcement Initiative go up in smoke, and not have to worry about a top prosecutor who cares about wage theft, workplace safety violations, and the kinds of labor abuses they get away with in other jurisdictions across the country and cost the workers tens of billions of dollars per year. For us, for the multiracial working class of Austin, these are priorities we’ve been working for years to realize, and while much remains to be done, we are immensely fortunate to have a dedicated fighter for that working class in office.

The opponent offers none of this. The opponent has never once said he would protect Travis County’s right to seek and obtain abortion, he has never once said he would protect trans kids and their families seeking lifesaving care. He has said nothing about our priorities for the enforcement and prosecution of justice here in Travis County, and so we must assume the worst.

They have money, they have the apathy of demobilized Democratic Party voters, but we can overcome—because we have people. We are the only ones who can save us, now and always. We need to step up and be comrades for our comrade, who’s given so much to make our cause a fact on the ground.

I said we’ve got people, so let’s see them. We need you to stop reading, open your phone, and find three friends, family, neighbors, or coworkers who haven’t voted yet. Tell them how to make a plan to vote: every location citywide is open from 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM. Let them know which forms of ID are accepted at the polls (there are seven types). Offer to give them a ride if they need it, and no matter what, let them know what’s at stake in this election. 

Who are our comrades today? If you’re ready for this fight, this is only one way, but a vital and necessary way, to show your solidarity today.

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