EDITORIAL: The process needs you

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Liberty Hill has growth. It has development, rising tax revenues and a growing list of needs and wants.

It has a city council and school board facing critical decisions that will shape the community in many ways.

It has candidates looking for the chance to be involved in molding that future, each with an idea in mind of how it should happen.

What Liberty Hill needs is you.

This community needs engaged, participating voters to ensure the growth and change continues on the path the majority wants to see.

But in Liberty Hill’s nearly two decades of incorporation, elections have been won and lost by dozens of votes – or less – rather than hundreds.

Since the first city election in 2000, roughly 1,560 voters have cast ballots across 10 elections. Of those 1,560 ballots, half were cast in the city’s first three elections between 2000 and 2004.

More recent elections included 47 voters in 2013 and 112 in 2014. No city council candidate has earned 100 votes since 2012.

Let that sink in.

According to the U.S. Census, the estimated voting-age population of the city is 700, which means in most years around 15 percent of potential voters cast a ballot and as few as six percent of those people are selecting our community leaders in some of those years.

This is not to say those elected over those years were or are not quality, hardworking public servants. But shouldn’t those who represent us all be chosen by a greater number of us?

This is not a problem for those running for office, but for those choosing not to participate in the process. The process needs you.

Perhaps you believe your vote won’t make a difference, but seven times an election has been decided by 16 or fewer votes. Twice, the winner earned the seat by a one-vote advantage.

The school board elections usually suffer the same apathetic fate, as the total number of ballots cast surpassed 400 only one time since 2008, and that was when 913 showed up to pass a school bond proposal in 2016. The percentage of the voting-age population, estimated to be near 12,000, that participates in these elections hovers well below five percent.

Too many important decisions are ahead of us that should not be made by so few people.

Come to The Independent’s Candidate Forum April 17, where you can hear from all nine candidates for council and school board and hear them answer critical questions about our city and schools.

If you are registered, make sure you vote. If you are not registered, you have until April 5 to register to vote. Voters should check their status on the Williamson County Elections Department website at www.wilco.org/departments/elections. On the site, new Williamson County voters can download the registration form or find information regarding name and address changes.

Registration forms can be mailed in, but voters can also bring applications to the elections office at 301 SE Inner Loop, Ste. 104 in Georgetown.

The rules regarding Texas’ Voter ID law have also changed slightly. The primary difference is that acceptable forms of identification on election day must not have expired more than four years before the date of presentation. The original law stated 60 days.

Acceptable forms of identification include a drivers license, election identification certificate, personal ID card issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety, military ID card, citizenship certificate, passport, or a license to carry a handgun. More details on the changes to Voter ID laws can be found at votetexas.gov.

Early voting is April 23-May 1. Election Day is May 5.

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