Three reasons why you should vote on Nov. 5

SEN. ROYCE WEST | 10/30/2013, 4:09 p.m.
By chance you haven’t heard there’s a statewide election set for Tuesday, Nov. 5. No, we won’t be electing a ...
Sen. Royce West The Dallas Examiner

Texas Senate

By chance you haven’t heard there’s a statewide election set for Tuesday, Nov. 5. No, we won’t be electing a president, we’ve already done that. And no, we won’t be electing a governor or re-electing a certain state senator. That will take place a year from now. But those reasons notwithstanding are no reason that you should not turn out to vote in next month’s statewide constitutional amendment and local special elections.

Reason No. 1 is that as citizens of a democracy, we should all avail ourselves of every opportunity wherein decisions are made that – realize it or not – do have an impact on our day-to-day lives. Majority rules in a representative democracy, and non-participation often speaks as loudly as a vote that is cast. But in the utopian dream of a 100 percent turnout, little doubt would be cast as to what the public really wants.

Take for example the 2012 presidential election. Statewide, of 18,279,737 Texans who were old enough and eligible to vote; only 43.73 percent actually cast ballots.

Reason No. 2 is that the rules for voting in Texas have changed. It’s a result of the controversial Texas Voter ID law passed in 2011. The aftermath of this summer’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling regarding the federal Voting Rights Act means that changes to Texas’ voting laws no longer require federal approval. Tuesday will mark the first time Texans will be required to show an approved form of photo identification to be permitted to vote. The voter registration card that you’ve used for years will not admit you into the ballot box anytime soon, so be prepared.

Those acceptable forms of photo identification include a Texas driver license or state-issued identification card, a Texas concealed handgun license, a U.S. Passport, a U.S. military ID card with photo, a U.S. citizenship certificate with photo and the much-confused Texas election identification certificate that cannot be issued if you have any other approved forms of photo ID.

Reason No. 3 is because unlike all other bills that pass into laws, those which require changes to the Texas Constitution require voter approval. There are also special elections in several Dallas County cities.

All Texans can vote on the nine constitutional amendments on the ballot. I support each of them. Of particular interest are two proposed amendments that would create property tax exemptions for veterans and their families. And Proposition 5 would modify Texas’ reverse mortgage laws to allow seniors to use proceeds from a reverse mortgage to help purchase another home.

But the most touted among the list of proposed constitutional amendments is Propositon 6. This measure would approve the use of $2 billion from the states’ Rainy Day Fund, to finance local water development projects. No one in Texas has been immune to drought conditions caused by the last three torrid summers. Combined with projections that Texas’ population will increase by some 12 million people by 2030, it is urgent that the state quickly look to shore up and expand its future water supply.

The beauty of Propositon 6 is that it will not raise taxes and will not cost you and me one cent more than we already pay to the state. The $2 billion will come from the Rainy Day Fund, which is comprised primarily of taxes paid on oil and gas production. It will fund two special accounts, one that will seed a revolving account that can be used by localities to help finance water projects. No additional state investment will be needed as the special funds will continue to pay for themselves.

Texas is the second largest state in the continental U.S., with 26 million residents and counting. A Texas-sized thirst needs a Texas-sized solution. Support Proposition 6!