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Letter to the Editor from Rockwall County Judge David Sweet

(ROCKWALL, TX — October 20, 2017) The upcoming constitutional amendment election will be a historic event in Rockwall County and presents an opportunity—and a challenge–for us to change what historical data tells us about voter turnout for constitutional amendment elections.

The Rockwall County Elections Department will follow a Texas Secretary of State recommendation to consolidate polling locations for the Nov. 7 seven-proposition constitutional amendment election. That means there will be three early-voting locations spread across the county and five election-day locations instead of the normal 17.

The consolidated polling locations plan is a first for Rockwall County.

Our county elections administrator, Christopher Lynch, reported to Commissioners Court that historically low voter turnout is a major reason for the recommendation to consolidate polling locations. Unfortunately, most of our registered voters simply don’t exercise their right to vote in constitutional amendment elections.

I would like for us to start something new with the upcoming election. Let’s turn out in record numbers for this election and every one that follows. Let’s decide now to vote early (Oct. 23-Nov. 3) or on election day (Nov. 7), then follow through.

In our country today, I believe we are seeing an increasing focus on the rights we have as Americans. I believe the right to vote should be ranked very high on that list of rights. How important it is to let our “voice” be heard with our vote, regardless of the issue or how far we must drive to exercise that important right.

We have 59,000-plus registered voters in Rockwall County. In the 2011 constitutional amendment election, voter turnout was 1,706. In the 2013 constitutional amendment election, voter turnout was 3,307. In 2015, about 8,000 votes were cast. The turnout was higher because a Rockwall Independent School District bond issue proposal was on the ballot.

Let’s change that low voter turnout trend.

My best advice to you is deciding to vote and make plans now. Visit www.rockwallcountyvotes.com. Mr. Lynch has done an outstanding job providing information that we need–election calendar, early voting schedule and locations, election day voting locations, voting precincts, sample ballot, the opportunity to sign up for an email list and to register to vote.

Of course, the sample ballot is an important piece of information that’s provided. Also, by visiting the web site, you can learn where you will vote early or where you will vote on election day. Finding your voting location is an important part of the planning process because you may have a different voting location.

Rockwall County is fortunate to have Mr. Lynch leading us in the elections department. I believe reading his letter on the elections department web page says a lot about the caliber of this public servant and his passion to lead us to the polls: “The mission of the Rockwall County Elections Department is to establish and increase public confidence in the electoral process by conducting voter registration and elections with the highest level of professional election standards, integrity, and accuracy. We are committed to serving the citizens of the County of Rockwall.”

Early voting is scheduled Oct. 23 through Nov. 3 and will be held at Rockwall County Library, Heath City Hall and Fate City Hall.

Election day locations will be at Rockwall County Library, Heath City Hall, Fate City Hall, McLendon-Chisholm City Hall and Ridgeview Church.

The consolidated voting locations plan is also about cost savings. The salary cost difference between 17 locations and five on election day is about $9,000, according to Mr. Lynch. He told Commissioners Court the cost for programming would be about $5,000 more than the proposed consolidated polling locations plan.

Early voters can cast their ballot at any of the voting locations. On election day, however, they must vote at their precinct location. Depending on the precinct in which voters reside, they may have to be directed to a different voting location if they wait until election day to vote.

Now, let’s vote!