It’s time for Texans to head back to the polls.
On today’s Election Day ballot: seven constitutional amendments that touch on issues such as transportation funding and property valuations — and a slew of local issues ranging from council races to city charter amendments.
Already, nearly half a million Texans, including more than 42,000 from Tarrant County, have cast their ballots, giving this year’s constitutional amendment election the highest early turnout in this type of election for at least a decade, records show.
“We are hoping for a good turnout,” said Frank Phillips, Tarrant County’s elections administrator, who predicts another 50,000-55,000 local voters could head to the polls today.
Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. today.
Voters could hardly ask for a better Election Day forecast.
Some fog is expected in the early morning hours, but that should fade away as temperatures rise to the mid-70s on what is expected to be a mostly sunny day, said Jennifer McNatt, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Fort Worth.
For information about voting, contact the Tarrant County Elections Center at 817-831-8683
Motivation to vote
Local races on the ballot include a school board election in Mansfield; city, water authority and library board of directors elections in Benbrook; charter propositions in Haltom City and White Settlement; and a road bond election in Keller.
The seven proposed amendments to the state constitution touch on issues such as transportation funding, property valuations, raffles at professional sporting events and reaffirming Texans’ right to hunt and fish.
“For Tarrant County residents, perhaps the best motivation for homeowners to turn out will be to cast a yes vote on Proposition 1 to ensure that in 2016 they pay around $125 less in property taxes than will be the case if Proposition 1 fails,” said Mark P. Jones, a political science professor at Rice University in Houston.
“And, if they want to reduce the amount of time they spend on state highways in traffic and improve the quality of the roads and bridges they drive on, then they’ll want to turn out to cast a vote in favor of Proposition 7.”
Texas’ Constitution, written in 1876, has already been updated by 484 amendments.
Political observers say it’s important to vote in the constitutional amendment elections if for nothing but to send a message to state lawmakers.
“This is one of the few times where voters will have a direct say in the legislative process,” said Brandon Rottinghaus, an associate political science professor at the University of Houston.
“Turning down these propositions requires the Legislature to go back to the drawing board — one of the few times that voters have a way to force legislators to alter their policy design,” he said. “By voting in favor, voters can signal to representatives that these issues are important to them and they would like more of the same types of policies.”
The Texas Constitution, written in 1876, has already been updated by 484 amendments.
Don’t leave home without...
Phillips reminds voters to check their voter registration cards before leaving home, to find their voting precinct and make sure they are heading to the correct polling site.
He and other election officials also continue to remind voters to bring a photo ID to the polls.
Acceptable IDs include a driver’s license, a state-issued personal ID card, concealed handgun license, military ID card, citizenship certificate with photo or a passport. Any license that’s expired must not be expired for more than 60 days.
PROPOSED AMENDMENTS TO THE TEXAS CONSTITUTION
On Nov. 3, Texans will vote on seven proposed changes to the Texas Constitution. Other issues on the local ballot include city council races in Benbrook and White Settlement, propositions in Haltom City, a bond election in Richland Hills and more.
Here are the proposed constitutional amendments.
Proposition 1 “The constitutional amendment increasing the amount of the residence homestead exemption from ad valorem taxation for public school purposes from $15,000 to $25,000, providing for a reduction of the limitation on the total amount of ad valorem taxes that may be imposed for those purposes on the homestead of an elderly or disabled person to reflect the increased exemption amount, authorizing the legislature to prohibit a political subdivision that has adopted an optional residence homestead exemption from ad valorem taxation from reducing the amount of or repealing the exemption, and prohibiting the enactment of a law that imposes a transfer tax on a transaction that conveys fee simple title to real property.”
Proposition 2 “The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to provide for an exemption from ad valorem taxation of all or part of the market value of the residence homestead of the surviving spouse of a 100 percent or totally disabled veteran who died before the law authorizing a residence homestead exemption for such a veteran took effect.”
Proposition 3 “The constitutional amendment repealing the requirement that state officers elected by voters statewide reside in the state capital.”
Proposition 4 “The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to permit professional sports team charitable foundations to conduct charitable raffles.”
Proposition 5 “The constitutional amendment to authorize counties with a population of 7,500 or less to perform private road construction and maintenance.”
Proposition 6 “The constitutional amendment recognizing the right of the people to hunt, fish, and harvest wildlife subject to laws that promote wildlife conservation.”
Proposition 7 “The constitutional amendment dedicating certain sales and use tax revenue and motor vehicle sales, use, and rental tax revenue to the state highway fund to provide funding for nontolled roads and the reduction of certain transportation-related debt.”
Sources: Texas Legislature Online, Texas Legislative Council, Texas secretary of state