AUSTIN — Texans approved dedicating $2 billion to the state water plan on Tuesday, while Houston residents voted for their mayor and decided the fate of the Astrodome in the first statewide election where officials checked voters’ photo IDs.
Early voting was nearly double what it was two years ago, prompting Republican officials to declare that concerns about the voter ID requirement were overblown. Despite those figures, only about 1 million out of 13.4 million Texas voters were expected to cast their ballot.
Voters overwhelmingly approved nine proposed amendments to the Texas Constitution, including the water measure, an expansion of reverse mortgages, and tax credits for disabled veterans and the surviving spouses of veterans killed in the line of duty.
Smith County voters supported all nine propositions as well.
Smith County Election Administrator Karen Nelson said 109 possible votes were left uncounted with 70 of 73 precincts reporting.
Proposition 1 garnered 85 percent, or 6,288 votes “for” to 15 percent “against,” or 1,050 votes.
Proposition 2 garnered 86 percent, or 6,238 votes “for” to 14 percent “against,” or 1,005 votes.
Proposition 3 garnered 52.3 percent, or 3,732 votes “for” to 47.7 percent “against,” or 3,403 votes.
Proposition 4 garnered 83.8 percent, or 6,123 votes “for” to 16.2 percent “against,” or 1,179 votes.
Proposition 5 garnered 58.5 percent, or 4,204 votes “for” to 41.5percent “against,” or 2,984 votes.
Proposition 6 garnered 51.5 percent, or 3,763 votes “for” to 48.5 percent “against,” or 3,534 votes.
Proposition 7 garnered 60.5 percent, or 4,327 votes “for” to 39.5 percent “against,” or 2,826 votes.
Proposition 8 garnered 72.6 percent, or 5,001 votes “for” to 27.4 percent “against,” or 1,884 votes.
Proposition 9 garnered 82.5 percent, or 5,908 votes “for” to 17.5 percent “against,” or 1,252 votes.
Proposition 6 attracted the most visibility and campaign funds, drawing support from business and environmental groups alike. Some conservatives oppose using the state’s savings account to finance large-scale construction projects while others were concerned the money could be misused.
Texas House Speaker Joe Straus called the results “a resounding and overwhelming victory” for the bipartisan campaign that he championed. In early results, more than 75 percent approved the measure.
“I think you saw stakeholders who don’t always agree with one another come together in a very collaborative way,” Straus said at a campaign party in a downtown Austin bar. He called for the state comptroller to transfer the funds as soon as possible.
Environmentalists also praised the result.
“We’re thrilled that Texas voters have chosen to invest in Texas’ water future,” said Luke Metzger, director of Environment Texas. “Texas is in a water crisis, caused by drought and made worse by wasteful water use.”
Earlier Tuesday, Connie Dean was part of a slow trickle of West Texans voting at a Lubbock elementary school. The 74-year-old retiree didn’t have any issue with the new voter ID requirements, but she wasn’t so sure she liked tapping the state rainy day fund.
“I was a little iffy but I went for it” despite the price tag, she said.
All voters were asked to present one of seven forms of photo identification — such as a driver’s license, a passport or a military ID — to cast ballots.
Democrats and civil rights groups have sued to block the law passed by the GOP-controlled Legislature in 2011, but the case is still pending. Cases of in-person voter fraud are rare, and critics of voter ID legislation say the laws aim to disenfranchise voters who tend to back Democrats.
Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott, who is running to replace Gov. Rick Perry in 2014, said critics had “run out of claims” about alleged hardships the mandate would create.
“I haven’t ever seen anything that was overhyped as much as some partisan efforts to overhype concerns about this when, in reality, there has been no problems whatsoever,” said Abbott, who defended the voter ID law in court.
Juan Quiroz, 66, said a poll worker in the Rio Grande Valley city of San Juan caught a discrepancy between the name on his driver’s license and the one on the voter rolls. He said resolving the ID issue wasn’t much of a hassle.
“I’ve always voted and never had any problem, but they’re really looking at the ID name,” Quiroz said.
Associated Press writers Betsy Blaney in Lubbock, Chris Tomlinson in Austin, and Christopher Sherman in San Juan contributed to this report.
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