Local experts speak on state constitutional amendments on November election ballot

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AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — Along with voting on the city of Amarillo’s proposition A, which impacts the tax rate for Amarillo residents, voters in both Potter and Randall counties, along with other Texas Panhandle counties, will be making their voices heard on eight potential additions to the Texas Constitution. 

Every two years, amendments are on the ballot for individuals throughout the state to vote on. This year’s amendment topics range from eligibility for judges as well as COVID-19. The language of the amendments voters will see on the election ballot are the following: 

  • Proposition 1 –
    • The constitutional amendment authorizing the professional sports team charitable foundations of organizations sanctioned by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association or the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association to conduct charitable raffles at rodeo venues.
  • Proposition 2 –
    • The constitutional amendment authorizing a county to finance the development or redevelopment of transportation or infrastructure in unproductive, underdeveloped, or blighted areas in the county.
  • Proposition 3 –
    • The constitutional amendment to prohibit this state or a political subdivision of this state from prohibiting or limiting religious services of religious organizations.
  • Proposition 4 –
    • The constitutional amendment changing the eligibility requirements for a justice of the supreme court, a judge of the court of criminal appeals, a justice of a court of appeals, and a district judge.
  • Proposition 5 –
    • The constitutional amendment providing additional powers to the State Commission on Judicial Conduct with respect to candidates for judicial office.
  • Proposition 6 –
    • The constitutional amendment establishing a right for residents of certain facilities to designate an essential caregiver for in-person visitation.
  • Proposition 7 –
    • The constitutional amendment to allow the surviving spouse of a person who is disabled to receive a limitation on the school district ad valorem taxes on the spouse’s residence homestead if the spouse is 55 years of age or older at the time of the person’s death.
  • Proposition 8 –
    • The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to provide for an exemption from ad valorem taxation of all or part of the market value of the residence homestead of the surviving spouse of a member of the armed services of the United States who is killed or fatally injured in the line of duty.

Why is the amendment portion of the election important? 

Dave Rausch, the Bivins professor of political science at West Texas A&M University, said every two years, amendments on the ballot highlight potential small, incremental changes made to the Texas Constitution if approved by voters. 

Rausch said the amendments start from big picture ideas from Texas lawmakers, eventually working its way down to these amendments brought to the voters. 

Aaron Faver, an instructor of social sciences at Amarillo College, sees this portion of the election as the state going to the voters and asking their permission to make certain changes. 

“Elections that have to do with constitutional amendments are particularly important because that’s the government coming to us and asking ‘hey, do we have your permission to do this?,’” Faver said. “We go to the voting booths and we cast our ballot about issues like this…One thing that I really like about the fact that Texas has individual amendments, as you get to vote on these issues specifically.” 

With the COVID-19 pandemic impacting all Texas residents since March 2020, two of the propositions, three and six, especially stem from what the state has gone through. Rausch said proposition three, a form of public policy, attempts to rein in the power of the governor and whether or not a person in that role can limit gatherings for religious organizations. 

Proposition six also stems from the COVID-19 pandemic, giving a right for people in certain facilities to have an essential caregiver for in-person visitation. Faver said this proposition tries to tackle the problem of isolation for certain groups of people. 

Rausch said what is not clear in this specific proposition is the rules surrounding how this would be enforced. 

“That’s an interesting one because you might remember that folks were banned from visiting their relatives…because they didn’t want the outside coming in,” he said. “The most vulnerable people were in assisted living facilities and nursing homes. This (proposition) would actually say that if you’re a patient or a resident in an assisted living facility, you can specify one person.” 

Faver said these two propositions specifically show the impact they could have on Texas residents if they are passed. 

“When you talk about religious services, (when) we talk about older people in our lives that are in special care facilities, just as important, (they are) directly impacting us,” he said. “What happens in government affects us all, right? They’re making decisions about all of our lives and whether we think it has influence on us or not, is a little bit irrelevant, right? Because at the end of the day, it does have influence.” 

Rausch stressed that all the amendments are written in such a way that if an individual votes yes, they want that specific item to change throughout the state. If they vote no, an individual does not want that specific item to change. 

But once an approved item is in the Texas Constitution, Rausch said it is very difficult to take it out. 

“At least for the Texas Constitution, once you put it in the constitution, it’s really hard to get it out. You’d have to do another amendment, essentially taking out the previous amendment and you’d have to explain to people why did you put it in in the first place,” Rausch said. “…All these constitutional amendments will have some impact on something. Now, how big an impact and how soon an impact are always sort of the open questions. And then, you’ll have to sit there and think about, you know, was that a good idea?” 

Even though the constitutional amendments could impact the lives of Texas residents if passed, Rausch said the elections usually turn out a low number of participants, especially compared to a presidential election. 

“The elections that mean the most, people vote the least… not that the presidential election doesn’t mean a lot,” Rausch said. “But your vote means very little in a presidential election, and yet everybody votes.”

Where can individuals vote in Potter and Randall counties? 

As of Wednesday, more than 1,250 individuals have voted early in the November election within Potter and Randall counties. Early voting will be open through Oct. 29 at the following locations in the two counties: 

Potter County

  • Santa Fe Building Ticket Office, 900 S. Polk St, first floor. If you have recently moved to Potter County and need to vote a Limited Ballot, plan to vote early at the Santa Fe Building.
    • Friday, Oct. 22; 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m
    • Sat., Oct. 23; 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
    • Mon.-Wed., Oct. 25-27; 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m
    • Thurs.-Fri., Oct. 28-29; 7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m
  • Casey Carpet One, 3500 I-40 West Frontage Rd, main entrance
  • United Amigos, 3300 E. I-40, west end
  • Hillside Christian Church NW, 600 Tascosa Road, foyer
  • Cornerstone Outreach, 1111 N. Buchanan, Fellowship Room
    • Friday, Oct. 22: 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
    • Mon.-Fri., Oct. 25-29; 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Randall County

  • Randall County Election Administration Office, 1604 5th Ave, Canyon, TX
    • Friday, Oct. 22; 8 a.m. ‐ 5 p.m.
    • Sat., Oct. 23; 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
    • Mon.-Wed., Oct. 25-27; 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
    • Thurs.-Fri., Oct. 28-29; 7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
  • Randall County Annex, 4320 S. Western
    • Friday, Oct. 22; 8 a.m. ‐ 5 p.m.
    • Sat., Oct. 23; 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
    • Mon.-Wed., Oct. 25-27; 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
    • Thurs.-Fri., Oct. 28-29; 7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
  • Randall County Justice Center, 2309 Russell Long Blvd, Canyon, TX
    • Friday, Oct. 22, 202; 8 a.m. ‐ 5 p.m.
    • Mon.-Fri., Oct. 25-29; 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
  • Southwest Branch Library, 6801 W. 45th Ave
    • Friday, Oct. 22, 202; 8 a.m. ‐ 5 p.m.
    • Mon.-Fri., Oct. 25-29; 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
  • Comanche Trail Church of Christ, 2700 E. 34th
    • Friday, Oct. 22, 202; 8 a.m. ‐ 5 p.m.
    • Mon.-Fri., Oct. 25-29; 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Election Day Voting

Election Day voting in November’s election will occur from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Nov. 2 at the following locations throughout Potter and Randall counties: 

Potter County: 

  • Wesley Community Center, northwest entrance at 1615 S. Roberts; 
  • Bushland Fire Station No. One, 17600 Indian Hill Rd.; 
  • Second Baptist Church, Family Life Center at 417 S. Buchanan; 
  • United Citizens Forum, 901 N. Hayden; 
  • Casey Carpet One, 3500 I-40 West Frontage Rd.;
  • Amarillo Auto Supply and Off Road, 3601 Amarillo Blvd.; 
  • Trinity Baptist Church, east entrance at 1601 I-40 West; 
  • Chaparral Hills Church, southwest entrance at 4000 W. Cherry; 
  • Discovery Center, southwest entrance at 1200 Streit Dr.; 
  • Kids Inc., Mary E. Bivins Room at 2201 SW 27th; 
  • Hillside Christian Church NW, 600 Tascosa Rd.; 
  • Highland Park ISD Administration Building; 15300 E. Amarillo Blvd.; 
  • Lighthouse Baptist Church, 5631 Pavillard; 
  • Pride Home Center, 3503 NE 24th. 

Randall County: 

  • The Cowboy Church, 8827 S. Washington; 
  • Comanche Trail Church of Christ, 2700 E. 34th; 
  • Randall County Justice Center, 2309 Russell Long Blvd. in Canyon; 
  • Southwest Church of Christ, 4515 Cornell; 
  • Redeemer Christian Church, 3701 S. Soncy; 
  • Southwest Branch Library, 6801 W. 45th Ave.;
  • Journey Church, 9711 FM 2186; 
  • Arden Road Baptist, 6701 Arden Rd.; 
  • Central Baptist Church, 1601 SW 58th; 
  • Oasis Southwest Baptist Church, 8201 Canyon Dr.; 
  • Randall County Annex, 4320 S. Western; 
  • The Summit, 2008 12th Ave. in Canyon; 
  • Coulter Road Baptist Church, 4108 S. Coulter. 

For more election coverage for other communities throughout the Texas Panhandle, visit MyHighPlains.com. 

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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