As a sophomore at Brownwood High School, Phil Wilson came to the Brown County Courthouse to lead the Pledge of Allegiance at a political function.
On Monday afternoon, he was back at the courthouse as Texas Secretary of State to encourage Texans to vote in the Nov. 6 constitutional amendment election.
“I hadn’t thought of that day in high school until I was coming up the steps,” Wilson said as he met with elected officials, election office personnel and civic leaders along with several hometown friends.
“Voting is one of our most important rights we possess as Americans,” Wilson said. “And it is essential, especially in an election which will determine changes to our state’s constitution, that Texans exercise their duty and cast their vote this November.”
He emphasized two important dates — Oct. 9, the last day to register to be eligible to vote in the election, and Nov. 6, the date of the election itself.
Wilson said one of his main initiatives as the state’s chief election officer is to improve the state’s voting environment. In last May’s constitutional amendment election, voter turnout totaled just over 7 percent statewide.
“Texas has always been bigger and better,” Wilson said. “We can do better than that.”
With 16 proposed constitutional amendments containing more than $9 billion in bonds which, if approved, would provide funding for cancer research projects and public transportation. Wilson didn’t endorse any of the proposals, but noted that legislators deemed the issues important enough to place before the people for their consideration. He said he believes this election will play a major role in shaping the direction of Texas for the years to come.
“These are very important issues for Texans to consider,” Wilson said. “Since it was enacted in 1876, our constitution has set the framework for how our state and its legislature operate, and it’s been amended about 400 times. Once again, Texans will have the opportunity to let the leadership know what they want the future of Texas to look like, and I hope you will join me in going to the polls this November.”
Wilson wouldn’t offer a prediction on the turnout in November’s election, but said his goal in touring the state is to ensure a better turnout than before.
“Texans need to be informed on the issues and then take the opportunity to go out to vote,” Wilson said.
Wilson said one of his first acts after assuming the secretary of state’s office was to inform the software vendor that issues that plagued election administrators throughout the state had to be fixed, or a new vendor would be found. A “strike team” is available to address problems any counties have, Wilson said.