By Jade Ortego
Killeen Daily Herald
Bell County voters followed the statewide election trend Tuesday, voting to pass all 11 constitutional amendments on the ballot.
Statewide and locally, Proposition 11, a highly publicized amendment restricting the government's right to eminent domain, passed with more than 80 percent of the vote.
"By approving Proposition 11, the voters of Texas have sent a clear message: Don't mess with private property rights," Gov. Rick Perry said Tuesday night.
Locally, Election Day turnout roughly equaled turnout for early voting, with just over 6,000 ballots cast. In total, 13,629 people voted in Bell County. With about 149,000 registered voters, that is a turnout of 9.1 percent.
Bell County voters passed every amendment, often by high margins. They voted 79 percent in favor of a proposition that guarantees public access to public beaches, and 75 percent voted to prevent members of governing boards of emergency services districts from serving terms that exceed four years.
County officials found that local issues, not amendments, were what drove people to the polls.
"I think the (Belton Independent School District) bond election and the Temple liquor election are what brought out most of the voters," Bell County Clerk Shelley Coston said.
"Constitutional amendments do not usually have a high voter turnout. They just do not spark voter interest," she said.
In Belton, voters cast 4,329 ballots, and Temple voters cast 4,199 ballots.
The Belton election, a $29 million bond for a new middle school, won with 54 percent of the vote; the Temple election, which would allow the sale of mixed alcoholic beverages, won with 68 percent of the vote.
Similarly, in Coryell County, a groundwater conservation initiative, which won with 80 percent of vote, boosted interest in the election, County Tax Assessor-Collector Justin K. Carothers said.
"County officials made a push the last couple of weeks to push (the initiative) on the ballot, so I assume that had something to do with it," he said.
"We got more than we expected," Carothers said. About 2,350 people voted in the county.
Coryell County residents voted to pass all but two of the amendments: Proposition 1, which would allow the creation of buffer zones around military installations, and Proposition 4, which would establish a fund to help emerging state universities develop into major research universities.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Contact Jade Ortego at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7553.