DALLAS –– Texas voters handed photo identification to poll workers and approved nine constitutional amendments on Tuesday that will, among other things, allow the state to funnel $2 billion from the rarely touched rainy day fund to pay for water infrastructure projects.
The election was the first test of the state’s newly enacted Voter ID law, which was hurried onto the books in June. Attorney General Greg Abbott declared the law effective literally moments after the Supreme Court struck down the provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that prohibited Texas from changing voting laws without preclearance from the federal government.
Perhaps ironically, Abbott –– a Republican gubernatorial hopeful and staunch supporter of the law –– was required to fill out an affidavit before voting because his name on his driver’s license did not match what was on the voter roll. So too did his Democratic opponent Wendy Davis, who had to fill one out for the same reason.
At 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, half an hour before the polls closed, Dallas County Elections Administrator Toni Pippins-Poole said her office had received more than 100 complaints from voters about the voter ID law.
She said she won’t know exactly how many people had to file affidavits until after election day when all the paperwork from the county’s polling places arrive at her desk.
For the majority of voters, Tuesday’s election was to decide upon those constitutional amendments, which also gave property tax breaks to spouses of military veterans killed in action and granted cities the ability to appoint public officials when one departs his or her seat with less than a year left in office.
Proposition 6 was the most widely publicized. Its approval creates the State Water Infrastructure Fund, which now has $2 billion from the rainy day fund to help begin paying for 562 water projects established by the state's water plan. That money will help offset borrowing costs on the more large-scale water projects, which lawmakers, who include Abbott, Gov. Rick Perry and Speaker Joe Straus, say will help ensure Texas has enough water in 2060.
Perry issued the below statement after its passage:
"Today, the people of Texas made history, ensuring we’ll have the water we need to grow and thrive for the next five decades, without raising state taxes. Now it’s time to get to work on the projects that’ll help us meet our growing water needs, preserving and improving both our economic strength and quality of life."
In Tarrant County, voters overwhelmingly approved a trio of bond proposals for the Fort Worth Independent School District that will pay for technology, transportation and security upgrades as well as two new schools: one with a focus on performing and fine arts and another for science, technology, engineering and math.
All three of those bond proposals passed with about 75 percent of the vote. To pay for the $490 million bond package, the district says homeowners with a $115,000 residence will pay $30 more a year in property taxes.
A bond package for Denton ISD passed there too –– that one, worth $312 million total, will pay for a fourth high school worth $149 million, two new elemetnary schools for $50.9 million and another middle school for $48.2 million. Guyer High School will also receive $49.9 million for a ninth grade addition.
Thirteen other schools in the district will receive $11.4 million for renovations and the district will enact a $1.6 million energy conservation plan.
Liquor sales easily passed in two North Texas cities. In Arlington, voters approved a proposition to allow it inside the city limits, making the city ‘wet’ for the first time in 111 years. The vote made its way to the ballot after a petition headed by the Texas Rangers secured the required 22,000 signatures last spring.
The proposition fast-tracked the sale of wine inside the Ballpark at Arlington but also did away with the city’s longstanding ban on hard liquor sales outside of bars. Lewisville voters also approved liquor sales there.
In Dallas County, Miguel Solis, Dallas ISD Superintendent Mike Miles’s former special assistant, won the District 8 school board seat. It was vacated in May when Adam Medrano won a seat on the Dallas City Council.
For results on races not mentioned here, head to our elections page. Below is each of the constitutional amendments passed by voters Tuesday evening, as compiled by the Associated Press.
- Proposition 1: Provides property tax breaks to the spouses of military veterans killed in the line of duty. APPROVED.
- Proposition 2: Eliminates requirements for a State Medical Education Board and a State Medical Education Fund, neither of which is operational. APPROVED.
- Proposition 3: Extends tax exemptions for aircraft parts brought into the state for resale, APPROVED.
- Proposition 4: Provides property tax exemptions for disabled military veterans and their spouses. APPROVED.
- Proposition 5: Expands "reverse mortgage" lending. APPROVED.
- Proposition 6: Authorizes the state to tap up to $2 billion from its savings account to create the State Water Infrastructure Fund. APPROVED.
- Proposition 7: Allows the appointment of city leaders when an elected official resigns with less than a year left in office. APPROVED.
- Proposition 8: Increases the taxing authority of a Hidalgo County hospital district. APPROVED.
- Proposition 9: Expands the powers of the state commissioner on judicial conduct. APPROVED.