November 8, 2007
So all 16 propositions that were on the ballot Tuesday passed.
I’m particularly pleased about Prop. 15, which I co-authored and which I believe will make Texas a leader in finding a cure for cancer.
That said, I’m disappointed that only 8.3% of the population voted. It’s just stunning to me.
Back when I was Austin Mayor, Liz and I were on a trip to Israel with a group of mayors from all over the world. We met a very enthusiastic mayor from a city in one of the African nations. He peppered us with questions about the United States, Texas, and Austin.
He asked us about voting – specifically, how many people voted in elections. We gave him the turnout from the previous election, and he just about didn’t believe us. In fact, he said it challenged his concept of what democracy is when so few participate in it.
Well, the good news is that the 8.3% included Preston McDaniel Watson, our 18-year-old. This was his first time in a voting booth (he turned 18 in August). Imagine getting to vote on the office of Inspector of Hides in your very first election. He was just giddy, of course.
Many of you may not know that there’s a thing called the “Help America Vote Act.” One of its provisions is that a “first-time voter [is] required to show additional identification before voting.”
It was reported to me by my very long-time friend Alfred Stanley (who happens to be our precinct’s cracker jack election judge) that, of the 335 voters casting their ballots at our precinct, Preston was the only one who had been required to navigate this provision.
He also reported that with the fine work of his staff and my son’s mistake-free presentation of a driver’s license, they were able to assure that no Preston Watson impersonator was trying to vote.
And now, Preston’s future is bright. As the judge put it, “Having proven who he [was] to my clerks’ satisfaction, Preston will never again have to fork up anything but his voter registration card before he votes from now on. He is now in the elite class of persons-for-whom-cardboard-identification-is-sufficient.”
What a neat day for all of us.
You may remember that last Saturday was the day that Dell, Goodwill, Austin Energy, and others gathered at Highland Mall to recycle old computers and keep them out of landfills. This, of course, was an offshoot of the bill I authored that said computer manufacturers must have a plan to reclaim and recycle old computers. I and many others hope this bill will keep a lot of lead, mercury, and other chemicals out of Texas landfills.
Well, the event was a huge success. About 735 cars came through the drop-off line. All told, we collected more than 56 tons of computer equipment.
So thanks a lot, Central Texas. You’re confirming my hopes that this law will really make a difference in protecting Texans and their environment.