If you haven’t already voted early in the 2017 general election, today is the day to exercise one of the most fundamental and important rights we Americans possess.
This is an off-cycle election. There are no heated, partisan races among national- or state-level politicians and only two local races that have generated much heat.
Most of the decisions voters will be asked to make on ballots today aren’t about choosing people at all, but about deciding governmental policy.
Given that people tend to ignore local elections even when they have a lot of personality, this election could turn out to be a snoozer, as far as voter turnout.
That statistic — the number of eligible voters who actually bother to vote — is seldom great and often dismal, not even cracking 10 percent when there are no party-driven issues or people on the ballot.
That shouldn’t be the case. Voting is one those civic duties that’s as important just in itself as for what it achieves. It’s like showing up for jury duty — the act of participating is more broadly important than the outcome of a particular trial. Voting, in other words, is a worthy end in itself, as well as a means to important decisions.
It’s worth the effort to get out and vote, and it has never been easier than it is now with the creation of county voting centers, where you can vote in any race conducted by Galveston County.
That’s not to say there’s nothing important in the ballots. The contrary is true.
There are seven proposed amendments to the Texas Constitution, for example. Proposition 1 would exempt veterans who receive fully donated homes from paying property taxes. Opponents say the proposal continues a pattern of giving tax exemptions to specialized groups.
Proposition 2 would revise home equity loan provisions. Supporters say the amendment would make home equity loans more accessible and lower costs for borrowers. It would lower fees and allow different kinds of refinancing. Opponents say loosening restrictions means fewer protections for consumers.
Meanwhile, Galveston County is asking voters to pass judgment on three bond propositions totaling about $80 million.
Proposition A calls for the issuance of $56 million in bonds for the construction, maintenance and operation of county roads, including roads within the cities of Bayou Vista, Clear Lake Shores, Dickinson, Friendswood, Galveston, Hitchcock, Jamaica Beach, Kemah, La Marque, League City, Santa Fe, Texas City and Tiki Island.
Proposition B calls for $18 million for the purchasing, constructing, reconstructing, improving or equipping county buildings.
Proposition C calls for $6 million for flood control projects.
The Daily News editorial board supports and endorses the bond package and urges voters to affirm all three.
Some Galveston voters today will be asked to choose school board candidates in two West End districts.
In District 5E, incumbent Matthew J. Hay is facing a challenge from Laura Parks Addison, while Beau Rawlins, a former trustee; Sandra Jones Tetley; and Johnny Smecca are vying for the open District 6F position.
No one sought the editorial board’s endorsement in the race, so we won’t make one officially, but it seems clear to us that Hay and Smecca are the best candidates to help achieve anything positive for Galveston’s public schools.
No matter what your attitudes about the propositions and the candidates, if you believe in democracy and are eligible to vote, you should do so.
• Michael A. Smith