Elections administrators across the state were busy Wednesday trying to tally figures from Tuesday’s elections that primarily focused on proposed amendments to the state constitution.
Many officials, especially those using countywide voting centers for the first time, weren’t prepared for turnouts that far exceeded expectations.
“Oh my, yes, it was a record,” said Cynthia Jaqua, Comal’s election administrator of the 15.25% of registered voters (15,815 of 103,638 eligible) during the 12-day early period and at 13 voting centers on Tuesday. “We were amazed, and it was that way all over the state.”
Texas voters approved nine amendments to the state’s Constitution on Tuesday. Only 12% of registered voters actually cast ballots in 2017, when 3.63% of Comal County voters cast ballots.
Tuesday’s total ranks second in off-year voter participation, led by 20.5% of voters who turned down Comal Independent School District’s 2013 bond proposal but ahead of the 14.9% of those in 2015 that approved a new county jail and sheriff’s office.
“We were surprised this time — we had prepared for a lower turnout,” Jaqua said.
County results mirrored state voters who overwhelmingly approved nine of the 10 proposed amendments to the state constitution. Proposition 1, permitting elected municipal court judges to serve multiple municipalities at the same time, was the lone failure.
Passing were Proposition 2, which allows the Texas Water Development Board to issue up to $200 million in bonds to develop projects in economically distressed areas; Proposition 4, prohibiting the legislature from ever imposing a state income tax; Proposition 5, assuring sales tax revenue to maintain and preserve state parks and historic sites; and Proposition 8, establishing an infrastructure fund for flood mitigation, flood control and drainage projects.
“Texans overwhelmingly voted to permanently ban a state income tax as Proposition 4 passed by a three-to-one margin,” District 73 State Rep. Kyle Biedermann said. “This is a victory for all Texans, and proves once again that Texas will continue to be a low-tax state, helping our economy thrive.”
“In addition, Propositions 2, 5 and 8, which I supported, passed by a wide margin as well. This will help benefit our district relating to parks, future water projects and flood issues. The people of Texas set our state up well for the future with their votes last night.”
High turnouts were reported at voting centers in Bulverde and Canyon Lake. Voters also selected Deborah Neubauer and Michele Grauerholz to the Bulverde Area Rural Library District board members, and turned down Emergency Services District No. 3’s Proposition A, which sought to increase the ESD’s maximum taxing rate from 8 cents to 10 cents per $100 property valuation.
The measure failed by a mere 12 votes. Of 4,200 total votes, 2,500 cast in person on Tuesday doomed the measure, with 1,290 voting for and 1,210 against.
“There were 150 people still in line at 7 p.m. at the Mammen library, 50 at the Tye Preston Library and about 25 at Garden Ridge City Hall,” Jaqua said. “People couldn’t park near the Preston library because 1,000 people voted there; and 1,077 voted at the (Mammen) library on Tuesday. Both turnouts were amazing.”
Wednesday afternoon the county was working on getting results posted on the Comal website, and aligning its vote totals with those reported at the Secretary of State’s website, both of which Jaqua hoped would soon be corrected.
Results from Tuesday elections won’t be official until certified by the respective entities within the next few weeks. Jaqua said county commissioners will approve Comal’s amendment canvass during their Nov. 14 meeting.
“We have all kinds of reports to ready, and we have 72 hours to get all the provisional ballots in and reported,” she said. “But mainly – we’d like to thank everyone who voted. It was a wonderful turnout and we apologize for any inconvenience for those who had to stand in line.”