After a long-fermenting local debate, Erath County is wet.
Local residents will finally have the opportunity to purchase beer and wine locally for off-premise consumption - meaning Erath County residents can visit a local retailer and buy a six pack of beer or a bottle of wine.
In a last minute effort to get locals to the polls, Stephenville resident Dustin Meiron and other members of the Erath Repeal Action Committee, the group that spearheaded the “wet-dry” campaign, loaded voters into passenger vans and transported them to the nearest voting center Tuesday.
Meiron said the group transported about 50 voters from Tarleton State University to the Embarq polling place. He said many of the voters, some who were non-traditional students, admitted they were voting for the first time.
“To be able to take voters to polls for the first time was empowering for myself and the voters,” Meiron said. “This was a historical election on both local and national levels, and I am proud of everyone who took the opportunity to get out and vote.”
Whether it was Meiron’s persistent effort of presenting the pros of “going wet” at every given opportunity, or his push to get college students and younger eligible voters to get out and vote, his plan worked.
Like voters across the nation, Erath County voters turned out in unprecedented numbers.
According to county officials, approximately 39.11 percent of the county’s 20,175 registered voters opted to head to the polls early. Just before 9 p.m. Tuesday, early voting totals showed 63.72-percent voted “for” and 36.28-percent voted “against” the measure. An hour and a half later, unofficial totals showed 65.7-percent “for” and 34.3 percent “against.”
Upon hearing the turnout, Meiron was excited, but still humble.
“Many want to credit me with bringing beer and wine to Erath County,” Meiron said. “This is the decision of the voters. It is a reflection that the county is ready to move forward.”
Meiron obtained the petitions to put the issue on the ballot in June and collected the signatures of 2,746 eligible voters in just weeks - 228 signatures more than the number needed to take the issue before voters.
At least in the case of beer and wine, history may repeat itself twice but the third time is a charm. According to county election records, the issue failed twice in previous years, once on June 6, 1978 when 723 voted “against” and 371 “for,” and again on May 8, 1982 when voters denied the measure with 2,145 “against” and 1,106 “for.”
While Meiron is celebrating, he does have one request of county residents.
“Now that the issue has passed, we must all be responsible consumers and conscious citizens,” Meiron said.