Texans vote online for new license plate

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Monday, February 4, 2008

The current Texas license plate was introduced in 2000.
Image: genvessel.

For the first time in Texas's history, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) is conducting an online vote to help decide which license plate design the state will use beginning in early 2009.

The week-long vote is being held at dot.state.tx.us. It started Monday at noon and will end on February 11 at the same time. Anyone can vote for one of five license plate designs, including the current design.

The designs are:

  • Traditional Texas — This simple design features blue highlights at the top and bottom and a gold star.
  • Lone Star Texas — This design uses a mountainous landscape under a bright, cloudy sky as its background. In the top left corner is a white star amid a splash of red and blue.
  • Natural Texas — The background is a field filled with wildflowers.
  • New Texas — This red, white and blue design features a skyline composed of landmarks from major Texas cities including Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio. A large gold star is faintly visible in the background.
  • My Texas — This is the current license plate that was introduced in 2000. It features silhouettes of a desert landscape with an oil derrick and a man on horseback, as well as a starry night sky with a space shuttle.

All of the designs incorporate the state's name, an outline of the state, and the state's nickname, "The Lone Star State". TxDOT says they took legibility and reflectivity into account when making the designs, in order to promote safety and law enforcement.

The decision to allow a public vote was made because the state was running out of six-character combinations to assign to drivers. The new license plates will have seven characters, regardless of the public's decision.

"By the end of this year, we will be out of license plate combinations for the three letters and three numbers that we currently put on the general-issue plate," said Rebecca Davio, director of Vehicle Titles and Registration. "Because we need to change the plate, we thought it was the perfect time to invite Texans to participate in a design selection."

According to TxDOT, it took 33 years to exhaust the number of six-character combinations, and using current population growth figures, they project it will take 35 years to run out of seven-character combinations.

The Texas Transportation Commission must give final approval of the design. TxDOT says the commission is "enthusiastic" about giving the public an opportunity to vote for the new design.

TxDOT considered allowing the public to submit designs, but ultimately decided that it would use a "substantial amount of state-worker time" and wouldn't be a "prudent use of taxpayer money".

At the time of this writing, an unofficial vote count showed the "Lone Star Texas" design in first place with over 22,000 votes. "Natural Texas" was second with over 14,000, followed by "Traditional Texas", "New Texas", and the current design "My Texas".


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This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.