If early voting numbers are any indication — and history suggests they are — interest in Tuesday’s election on seven proposed amendments to the Texas Constitution is low. That’s no surprise. In the last stand-alone amendment election, in 2013, only 8.6 percent of registered Texas voters cast a ballot. By contrast, 58.6 percent of Texans came out to vote in the 2012 presidential election.
Unfortunately, that’s the usual reaction among voters, who seem to enjoy mixing it up politically when people’s names are on the ballot, but who become blasé when it comes to constitutional issues. For a variety of reasons, it translates to an extremely low voter turnout.
Perhaps you subscribe to the philosophy that it’s better for someone who doesn’t understand the issues to stay home. Is it better for an uninformed voter not to cast a ballot at all? The best outcome would be for a large number of registered voters to study the propositions, to carefully weigh the pros and cons, and then vote. The issues on the ballot this week are not overly complicated.
Some of the proposed amendments touch on matters that emote passion among certain segments of the population, while others affect almost every Texan. They include measures involving property taxes for homeowners, the elderly, the disabled and surviving spouses of military veterans; professional sports raffles for charitable purposes; where state officials can live; rural road construction on private land; the right to hunt and fish; and state highway funding.
It’s true that in a representative form of government, the people elect men and women to decide such matters, but the authors of our state’s constitution left certain things in the hands of the people. Our state representatives and senators in the Texas Legislature have studied these seven proposed amendments, and their support of them can be taken as their recommendation for approval. But, as history as also shown, Texas voters sometimes had different ideas on how government should function. Voters defeated three of 10 proposed amendments in 2011.
Whether you agreed or disagreed with the will of the people, at least some of them studied the issues.
The Texas Constitution requires lawmakers to ask voters to endorse certain pieces of legislation, and that seems cumbersome to many. As a result, it’s been amended 484 times since 1876. That’s our heritage. That’s our privilege. It’s also our duty and responsibility.
It’s unfortunate that constitutional amendment elections are considered unimportant by so many. The amendments that voters consider on Tuesday could be with us for generations, as could the consequences that passage or rejection will bring. Early voting closed Friday, so don’t forget the opportunity Tuesday to cast your ballot.
— Brownwood Bulletin