The Waxahachie Daily Light covered the petition project's new deadline and new signature count goal in its Sunday, July 22 newspaper, and the July 24 online edition.
As always, we thank reporter Ashley Ford, who has helped keep county residents apprised of the project and its progress.
After missing their July deadline, Ellis County petitioners are more determined than ever to meet their next goal to restore voters’ right to choose whether cities can annex them.
“If you care about the freedom of country living, find a way to sign the petition now, before August 6,” said project co-founder, Louis Ponder. Ponder has already lost the rights he’s fighting for. His largely undeveloped ranchland, was annexed by the City of Midlothian at the end of 2017.
He says voters can find petition books at locations throughout the county. Or they can simply download and print the blank petition from the website (www.StopAnnex.org), sign it, get others to sign it, and contact the team to pick it up.
“Don’t wait for somebody to come to your door. Stand up for your own rights,” said project organizer, Pat O’Connell of Red Oak.
For Ponder, it’s a matter of principle. “This process of forced annexation allows elected city council members of a city you aren’t yet part of, and that you, a county resident, did not have the opportunity to vote for... to decide whether or not to absorb your property, impose their rules and taxes on you and force you to pay for debt they incurred without your approval.”
Some in the petition movement call it “taxation without representation,” a notion that sparked the original American revolution. Others echo the founding fathers’ demand for “consent of the governed” recorded in the Declaration of Independence.
Even Governor Abbott called the practice “un-Texan” in a 2017 op-ed urging Texas legislators to give Tier 2 rights to all counties. Instead, lobbying efforts forced a compromise that granted the 12 largest counties the right to such consent, but left residents in the remaining 242 counties to spend precious time and resources gathering petitions to get those rights back.
The project’s first target was July 6 to collect enough signatures to put the measure (to reclassify Ellis as Tier 2) on the November ballot.
In a massive surge of effort, citizens accumulated 4,500 signatures in only 16 days over the July holidays, doubling the number collected in the project’s entire first four and a half months.
But even 9,000 was short of their 15,000-signature goal. So they reset their sights on the May 2019 elections.
Then a gift: The county elections office reported that only active-status voters will figure in the calculation of petition signatures required.
Even adding a buffer for disqualified signatures, the team was able to lower their goal to 11,000 raw signatures. With the July count at 9,000, they are now within 2,000 signatures of their target, with less than a month to go.
Still they remain cautious.
Johnson County—whose own petitioning effort recently succeeded—reported a lower-than-expected rate of signatures accepted by their elections office. That’s why the Ellis County petitioners are now shooting for even more signatures, just to be safe.
After the August deadline, the earliest of the petition signatures will exceed their 180-day mark and can no longer be counted. Determined to protect every precious signature, the team intends to keep the pressure on for the rest of July, and asks every voter in the county to stand up for their rights by finding a way to sign before August 6.