2007-09-21 / Front Page

Secretary of state promotes voting

By DAVID LOWE Staff Writer

Phil Wilson Texas Secretary of State Phil Wilson on Monday urged Lampasans to register to vote for the Nov. 6 election, which will include 16 state constitutional amendments containing more than $9 billion in bonds.

In the third stop of a multi-day tour of the state, Wilson told the audience at the Lampasas County Courthouse he is working to improve voter turnout -- 7 percent in the May 2006 constitutional election and 18 percent the previous November.

"Texas can do better than that," the secretary of state said. "We always say we're bigger and better, and that's true, but in this particular part of our democracy we're not doing as well as we can."

Citizens have until Oct. 9 to register to vote. Applications are available on the secretary of state's Web site, www.sos.state.tx.us, as well as in the county voter registrar's office and most libraries, post offices and high schools.

"Voting is one of our most important rights we possess as Americans," Wilson said, "and it is essen- tial, especially in an election which will determine changes to our state's constitution, that Texans exercise their duty and cast their vote this November."

PHOTO BY GABE WOLF Secretary of State Phil Wilson, right, presents a certificate of appreciation to Precinct 3 County Commissioner Lowell Ivey and Elections Administrator Dorothy Person to honor county officials' work in promoting voter participation. Texas has had five state constitutions and is governed by the 1876 constitution. The document has been amended 400 times, which Wilson said shows Texans' commit- ment to self-government.

"The people of Texas have been busy for the last 100 years dealing with issues of democracy," the secretary of state said.

Some of the constitutional amendments Lampasas County voters will face in November -- along with a jail bond -- include:

• Proposition 11, which would require, and post for public Internet access, a record vote by a house of the Texas Legislature on non-ceremonial bills and on resolutions proposing or ratifying constitutional amendments.

• Proposition 13, which would authorize the denial of bail to a person who violates certain court orders or conditions of release in a felony or family violence case.

• Proposition 7, which would allow government entities to sell property acquired through eminent domain back to the previous owners at the price the entities paid to acquire the property.

• Proposition 12, authorizing as much as $5 billion in Texas Transportation Commission bonds to fund highway improvement projects.

• Proposition 15 to create the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas and authorizing as much as $3 billion in bonds for cancer research.

• Proposition 4, authorizing the issuance of up to $1 billion in bonds for equipment purchases and for maintenance, improvement, repair and construction projects.

• Proposition 2, providing for $500 million in bonds for educational loans.

• Proposition 6, which would allow the legislature to exempt from ad valorem taxation one motor vehicle used for an owner's professional or personal activities.

In responding to a question from Lampasas County Republican Party Chairman Skipper Wallace, Wilson said his department will work with county election officials to ensure voting machines function properly.

"Particularly in the smaller counties it presents a real problem if we can't use those machines on election day," Wallace said.

Wilson is responsible for ensuring state elections follow the Texas Election Code. His office's Elections Division helps county officials interpret changes in election law and implement the 2002 Help American Vote Act.

At the end of his talk, Wilson presented a certificate of appreciation for county officials' work promoting voter participation.

Wilson also was scheduled to visit Belton, Gatesville, Brownwood, Brady and Llano on Monday.

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