Whitehouse groups get out the vote as early voting starts - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Whitehouse groups get out the vote as early voting starts


Early voting kicked off across the state of Texas Monday, and one East Texas community is taking a second look at a controversial issue.

In November 2010, Whitehouse residents voted to allow mixed alcoholic beverages to be sold in restaurants, but voted against allowing the sale of beer and wine in stores for off-premise consumption.

That proposition is back on the ballot this spring, and both sides are getting out the vote.

Dale Moran has run seven successful campaigns, and he has a lot of election tricks up his sleeve.

"The most important thing in any election is informing the public, the voting public," said Moran, an advisor for Keep Whitehouse Dry. "If people are correctly informed of the facts of the matter, we have no problem."

Keep Whitehouse Dry has sent out postcards with statistics and voter information and have signs up all over Whitehouse.

"The churches this time, there's about a dozen churches involved with us," Moran said. "They're putting it out in their church brochures and letting people know about it."

Those techniques are many of the same ones being used by the group trying to bring alcohol to Whitehouse stores.

"We've done a mail-out in the community to let people know the information on when the vote is and stuff like that," said Kyle Bagby, a co-owner of Pro Automotive Group in Whitehouse. "We've done an automated calling system to the folks to let them know, and then word of mouth. Whitehouse is a relatively small community. Word of mouth is tremendous."

The big question for both sides will be how many people will turn out to vote. The last time an alcohol proposition was on the ballot was November 2010. That was also a gubernatorial election year, so turnout was roughly 50 percent.

But in a special election held just six months earlier, in May 2010, only 376 people voted - that's only an 8 percent voter turnout.

Bagby said local business owners haven't changed their get out the vote strategy much since alcohol sales were defeated in November 2010 - but now, residents are "up-to-speed" on the issue.

"The first time around, a lot of people didn't even know it was taking place, the vote for the wet-dry thing," Bagby said. "And now, I think, with the other communities around us going wet, people seeing what's going on in those communities, I think it's at the forefront of everybody's mind now."

And with only one issue on the ballot, the signs are mostly doing the talking - and now, it's just up to the voters to decide.

Early voting is happening at all early voting locations this week from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and next Monday and Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Election day all over East Texas is Saturday, May 11.

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