After missing the July deadline, Ellis County petitioners are more determined than ever to meet their next goal to restore voters’ right to choose whether cities can be forcibly annexed.
“If you care about the freedom of country living, find a way to sign the petition now, before Aug. 6,” advocated project co-founder, Louis Ponder.
Ponder, a Midlothian resident has already lost the right he is fighting for. His largely undeveloped ranchland was annexed by the City of Midlothian.
Ponder said 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, petitioners encouraged.
“Don’t wait for somebody to come to your door. Stand up for your own rights,” said Pat O’Connell of Red Oak.
"This practice of forced annexation allows a city government — that you, as a county resident, didn’t vote for — to ask voters of a city you aren’t yet part of to decide whether or not to absorb your property and impose their rules and taxes on you,” O’Connell explained.
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 two 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 242 other counties to spend precious time and resources gathering petitions to get those rights back.
The project’s initial target date was July 6 to collect enough signatures to put the measure to reclassify Ellis County as tier two 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. The sights have been reset on the May 2019 elections.
The county commissioner's 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, others remain cautious.
Johnson County—whose own petitioning effort recently succeeded—reported a lower-than-expected rate of signatures accepted by their commissioners. 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 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.
For more information, contact StopAnnexEllis@gmail.com or visit the website at www.StopAnnex.org.
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Petition against forced annexation in Ellis County requires 11,500 more signatures
Ellis County residents sign petition against forced annexation