Will Voters Complete The Ballot With Four Issues On The Ticket?
by: Pat Hernandez, August 13, 2012 5:08:00 pm
The authorization items — a bond for the HISD, another for HCC and another for the City of Houston — will be at the bottom of the ballot come November.
The two school measures will mean an increase in property taxes, while the city's proposal will not.
Metro's referendum will ask voters whether the transit agency should continue the general mobility fund.
Professor Bob Stein teaches political science at Rice University. He says after voters cast ballots for all the candidates, from president of the United States all the way to municipal and county judicial races, they may or may not tackle these items.
Then there's straight ticket voting, where Stein says that as many as 68 percent Democrat and Republican may be voting straight ticket.
"After they hit that one button, they may forget or thought they have voted for everything. Of course, you can't vote for straight ticket on the bonds or on Metro, and they may forget to get to the bottom of the ballot. Third, there's a concern that when you have three bond issues and a contentious Metro issue, that voters may have a negative attitude towards all of them and vote them all down."
There is said to be a united front on the part of HISD and HCC, and city controller Ronald Green says it might be a good idea for the city to join in that effort.
"Although the City of Houston's bond initiative does not include a tax increase, it would be smart to let people know how it ties in to the other tax increases. So I think it makes sense for everyone to be on the same page."
Last week, the Houston school board voted to put the $1.9 billion bond referendum on the November ballot. Sue Davis is with Citizens for Better Schools, an organization charged with marketing the modernization of campuses.
"I think all of the organizations and the entities that are holding bond elections in November will be letting the public know that those issues are on the ballot, and how important they are, and encouraging everybody to finish the ballot, go all the way down to the bottom and vote for each of those bond issues."
And while the measures have the potential to transform Houston with upgraded parks, libraries, grade schools and colleges, Rice professor Stein says the biggest concern remains fade-off. He says early voting could decrease the voting fatigue.
"We found that people who vote early, are less likely to roll off and forget to vote for the bonds. Some of it is because early voters are a little bit more interested and a little bit more informed. The other we think is that early voters take their time, and with the e-slate — the kind of voting we have — if you don't vote for a race, it actually shows you the races you voted for, and the races you didn't vote for."
Early voting ballots have the bond issues highlighted in red, and Stein believes an increase in early voting sites would help eliminate the roll-off.