On Election Day, Voter Turnout Will Likely Be Low

Ten constitutional amendments, local propositions and several special elections for state legislative seats are on the ballot.

By Rhonda FanningNovember 5, 2019 1:34 pm

Tuesday is Election Day, with 10 constitutional amendments on the statewide ballot and a number of local propositions up for consideration, along with several special elections to fill vacant legislative seats. Texas Standard host David Brown spoke with reporters from around the state about the issues and candidates that are attracting the most attention. 

Jimmy Maas is a reporter for KUT in Austin, and says early-voting turnout in Travis County has been low, as is often the case for off-year elections; most items on the ballot there are amendments to the state Constitution. Two city of Austin propositions involve taxes and paying for local amenities. Maas says Proposition A, which was placed on the ballot by opponents of a professional soccer stadium, no longer has political support, since the stadium project has already been approved. But the proposition does include clauses that would tax nonprofit organizations with facilities on city land. 

“That would be city law that all those groups would have to pay property tax,” Maas says. 

The second proposition is also a citizen-driven measure that would require the city to seek voter approval for any expansion of the Austin Convention Center. It would also change how the city disperses money from hotel occupancy taxes.

Jamie Hancock is assistant politics editor at The Dallas Morning News, and says the Texas House seat formerly occupied by Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson is on the ballot in parts of east, south and west Dallas. Four candidates are running in District 100, all of whom are Democrats. 

“All of the candidates have fairly similar platforms,” Hancock says.”They all agree that the district needs solutions for better education, health care, reducing crime and police violence.”

Whoever wins the seat will face another campaign next year. The Democratic primary for the 2020 election is March 3. All four candidates in the race say they will run next year, too.

Hancock says the state constitutional amendments aren’t drawing a great deal of interest in North Texas, though voters in District 100 may be drawn to the state House race.

In San Antonio, Texas Public Radio reporter Brian Kirkpatrick says Bexar County election officials expect about 6%-7% of registered voters to cast ballots on Tuesday. Proposition 4, which would amend the Texas Constitution to prohibit the creation of a state income tax, is garnering the most attention in San Antonio, Kirkpatrick says. 

“The voters we have talked to, especially native Texans, are opposed to a state income tax,” Kirkpatrick says. “They just don’t believe we need one.”

Concerns over election security have led many counties, including Bexar, to purchase new voting machines that provide a paper ballot. 

“Election officials say only one person walked off with their ballot without having it scanned,” Kirkpatrick says.

Houston Public Media reporter Florian Martin says Houston residents will vote for a mayor Tuesday, which means they’ll either reelect incumbent Sylvester Turner, or replace him with one of 11 challengers. Martin says turnout has been low during early voting. The mayoral campaign has been contentious, and it’s likely that the race will end in a runoff.


Written by Shelly Brisbin.