Election Day: What You'll See on the Ballot

Tomorrow is election day and voters might be surprised to see the number of constitutional amendments on the ballot this year. As Houston Public Radio's Laurie Johnson reports -- There's a lot more to be prepared for than just the city council races.

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In addition to mayoral elections, city council races, county-wide propositions and local bond elections, there are 16 constitutional amendments on the ballot. Few of them are sexy and most are designed to fix technicalities. Houston Mayor Bill White, who is himself running for re-election, says still people should know what they're voting on.

"I would urge voters to get informed about what's on the ballot, to read them carefully, to vote. I do not urge guessing."

With that in mind, here's a little tour of what voters will see on the ballot. There's the much publicized Proposition 15, a cancer research bond package. And there's Prop 4, a sort of catch-all bond that'll provide money for the Houston Crime Lab and restoring the Battleship Texas, among other things. And Rice University Political Science Professor Bob Stein says then there's the boring stuff.

"General obligation bonds to finance student loans - Number 2. Constitutional amendment authorizing legislature to provide appraisal value for residents or home ad valorem -- if a voter were reading this they'd have no idea. Construction projects for the public safety, youth commission and wildlife."

[Reporter] "I'm looking at my copy of the ballot here. What about Prop 10?"

[Laughter] "That's just a silly...so we have this Inspector of Hides and Animals and it's a technical change because the constitution wants to get rid of an office that for all intents and purposes doesn't exist any more. Remember this constitution was written initially in 1845 and ratified several times in the late 1800s and when we had hides and animal inspectors it was an important thing. Not necessary. There is no office. So get rid of it."

Of course, none of this is the kind of stuff that gets voters to turn out in droves. Secretary of State Phil Wilson projects an overall turnout of 9.5 percent, a number that's lower than normal for a non-gubernatorial election year. And Houston/Harris County will account for a large proportion of the overall vote. Laurie Johnson, Houston Public Radio News.


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