The short answer is, “You don’t.”
That said, the longer answer is much more interesting.
Before I take you through the process, I must first explain that the Libertarian Party does not utilize a primary system for reasons of principle. Simply put, unlike the two old parties, we do not believe in coerecively forcing the people of the great State of Texas to pay money for us to settle what is an internal dispute within our private organization, namely who should be the party’s nominee.
When you think about it, primaries are doing just that, spending your money to decide who should be on the ballot in November is absurd. In the state of Texas the costs of running these elections runs into the tens of millions of dollars each election cycle, but I digress.
Here are the steps you need to take to actively participate in the electoral process as a Libertarian in the State of Texas.
Be sure you are registered to vote. If you are you should have recieved a voter registration card in the mail a few weeks ago. If you would like to register or you are unsure if you are registered, click here. In order to participate you must be registered 30 days before the election.
This is crucial. You must NOT vote in primary of one of the two old guard parties on March 1. By doing so you are, in the eyes of the Texas Legislature affiliating with that party until the next election cycle and you then disqualified from participating with the Libertarian Party. Many good people think that this is giving up their voice, but in reality, your voice (and vote) will have a much greater impact if you forego voting in their primaries.
Attend your precinct convention of the Libertarian Party in your county of residence on March 8, 2016 at 7pm. For those of you in Collin County this will be taking place at Parr Library in Plano. Click here for directions. If you are not in Collin County, please contact your Libertarian Party County Chair to find out the time and place for the precinct conventions. In most counties, all of the precinct conventions are colocated and are held at 7pm, but this can vary so do check. Don’t forget to bring your Voter ID card (from Step 1). While this is not absolutely necessary it will make the process go much quicker.
At your precinct convention you will get your Voter ID card stamped “Libertarian.” Congratualtions, at this point you are officially a Libertarian according to the great state of Texas. In addition to the stamp, you will likely sign an Oath of Affiliation. After all this paperwork is done,you will caucus with the other people from your precinct (it might be just you) and select delegates to the county convention. Everyone who appears at a precinct convention is automatically selected as a delegate to the county convention.
One important caveat: If you cannot attend your precinct conventions, but would still like to be a delegate to the county convention, you must a) alert your county chair or your precinct chair if you know who that person is and b) make sure that someone else from your preceinct will be at the preceinct conventions. For obvious reasons, if there is no one from your precinct in attendance then a convention for the precinct cannot be held and therefore, no delegates can be named to the county convention from that precinct. If someone from your precinct does attend, the chair will ask that you be named as well. If this occurs then you are all good to go.
Attend the county convention of the Libertarian Party in your county of residence on March 12, 2016. For those of you in Collin County this will be taking place at Schimelpfenig Public Library in Plano. For directions, click here. If you are not in Collin County, please contact your Libertarian Party County Chair to find out the time and place for the county conventions.
This is where the real fun starts. Unlike the precinct conventions where all comers “move on to the next round,” the county conventions will see some action. First, up will be either the adoption of by-laws for newly organized counties or the revision of by-laws for those that have already adopted them. In most cases this is pretty tame.
Next, the delegates will nominate candidates who will appear on the ballot in November. Candidiates (or a designee) are usually given the right to speak on their behalf. Now in most, but not all races there will only be one candidiate, but due to a concept that is only used in Libertarian races, this does not assure them being the nominee.
Since the very being of the LP, all races for any office must include “None of the above” or NOTA. If the voting delegates do not feel that a particular candidiate, or even a set of candidates, does not represent the principles of body politic than it would be better if the ballot spot or office is left empty. This is extremely powerful. Most often is is utilized in races where there is a candidiate who is unknown to all present and does not show up at the convention, but it has been known to happen in high profile and highly contested races. In fact, NOTA was used successfully at the National LP Convention in 2012 in the race for National LP Chair.
After the delegates select the nominees, the next step is to select County Officers. In most cases, these offives include Chair, Vice-chair, Treasurer and Secretary. Note that the NOTA concept will be at play in these contests as well.
In many counties their will be a quick appointment of delegates to a district convention. Collin usually participates with all neighboring counties. The date for the district conventions is March 19. Again, if you are unsure, speak with you county chair.
The last duty of a county convention is the selection of delegates and alternates to the State Convention. Each county is apportioned a set number delegates. Collin County has 11 this year. The method of selection is left to the county to decide. Some counties use approval voting, some majority rules, still others use rank order. Collin County by tradition has used approval voting.
Once delegates to the State Convention are selected the County Convention will be adjourned. Note that the Libertarian Party of Texas State Convention will be held in San Antonio on April 8-10.
Congratulations! If you get this far, you have officially “voted” in a Libertarian Party “primary.”