More voters have cast ballots in this year’s midterm, as of Saturday, than the total number of votes cast for the entirety of the 2014 midterm election in Hidalgo County.
There are about 38,627 more voters eligible to vote in this year’s midterm election, compared to the previous midterm, according to information provided by Hilda Salinas, a elections analyst with the Hidalgo County Elections Department.
During the first five days of early voting in the county this year, 57,624 registered voters cast ballots in person — a 2,444 vote difference from the total number of ballots cast in-person in the 2014 midterm. During the 2014 midterm election, 55,180 Hidalgo County residents voted in-person.
Early voting runs through Friday, Nov. 2. Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 6.
The county has about 426 volunteer deputy registrars, residents who are trained and eligible to distribute and accept voter registration applications in their home county.
Amanda Salas, a volunteer deputy registrar from McAllen, said she registered 2,832 voters from mid-June until Oct. 9, the final day to register to vote in this year’s midterm.
Salas said the Rio Grande Valley can be “really apathetic” toward voting, but intends to break the cycle by educating and empowering newly registered voters.
“I think when you really break it down for the individual, it not just educates them, but it really makes them feel empowered,” Salas, who also works as a field organizer for Battleground Texas, said, later adding: “You have the same kind of power as someone who is a billionaire in the voting booth.”
Salas registered many of the voters before working for Battleground Texas, she said, because “registering voters is absolutely necessary.”
About 17.6 percent of eligible voters have submitted ballots in person or by mail in the county during this midterm election.
“Having Rep. O’Rourke run against Sen. Cruz is really sparking a lot of people’s interest, especially here in the Valley,” said Natasha Altema McNeely, a political science professor at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. “And I see it on (the Edinburg) campus.”
A polling location is set up inside the university’s student union building, where 3,364 registered voters cast ballots as of Friday. In 2016, 3,175 residents voted early there during the first five days of early voting.
“Nationally and internationally, in the case of the caravan coming, there are some high-profile events that are occurring, that’s still affecting maybe the potential impact of the midterm elections,” Altema said, referring to the caravan of Central American migrants making their way to the U.S.-Mexico border.
The caravan sparked reaction from local congressmen as well as President Donald Trump.
“ As these events continue to play out, that might drive some people to the polls, but I think the overall interest in the existing statewide races here in the state of Texas will remain the same,” Altema said. “So, I think people are interested enough that a lot of people are intending to vote.”
Trump rallied for U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, in Houston on Monday, the start of early voting, a sign that O’Rourke is “more of a viable candidate than they gave him credit for,” Altema said.
Cruz will make a campaign stop at Christian Fellowship Church in Harlingen on Monday. O’Rourke held campaign rallies in the Valley with Rep. Joe Kennedy III, D-Mass., this month.
Altema said some local races are also “driving people to the polls.”
Some of those local races include that of county judge, pitting Democrat Richard Cortez against Republican Jane Cross and the state House District 41 race in which state Rep. Robert “Bobby” Guerra, D-McAllen, is challenged by Republican Hilda-Garza DeShazo.
“ Both political parties would benefit, if turnout rates among all the voters (in Texas) were to increase, compared to how it was in 2014,” Altema said.
There are also school board races in Edinburg, Weslaco, La Joya, Donna, Edcouch-Elsa, Mercedes and Monte Alto.
In the city of Edinburg, there are four propositions on the ballot. Hidalgo County Drainage District No. 1 also called for a proposition, asking voters to approve a $190 million bond for drainage improvements.
Voters in the cities of Weslaco, Donna, Edcouch and Palmview are also electing members to their city commissions and councils.
On Monday, 32 early voting polling locations in the county are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mobile voting sites will be stationed at the Hidalgo County Courthouse and South Texas College’s Mid-Valley campus in Weslaco on Monday.
Hidalgo County Early Voting
Sunday, Oct. 28 …….. 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Monday, Oct. 29 ……… 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Tuesday, Oct. 30 …….. 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Wednesday, Oct. 31 ….7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Thursday, Nov. 1 ………7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Friday, Nov. 2 …………..7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Hidalgo County Early Voting Substations
Sgt. Fernando De La Rosa Library
416 N. Tower Road
Alton City Hall
509 S. Alton Blvd.
Amigos Del Valle
1408 Silver Ave.,
200 W. Santa Rosa Ave.
Elections Annex Building
317 N. Closner (behind the building)
Student Union Building
1201 W. University
San Carlos Endowment Center
107 N. Sunflower Road
411 N. 8th Ave.
216 E. 4th St.
Granjeno City Hall
6603 S. FM 494, Granjeno
Hidalgo City Hall
704 E. Ramón Ayala
La Joya substation
201 Palm Shores Drive
La Villa substation
500 E. 9th St.
Lark Community Center
2601 Lark Ave.
Firemen’s Pump House
201 N. 1st St.
Palmview Community Center
3401 Jordan Ave.
STC Pecan Campus
3201 Pecan Blvd.
STC Nursing Campus
1101 E. Vermont Ave.
Mercedes Civic Center
520 E. 2nd St.
Mission City Hall
1201 E. 8th St.
Fire Station No. 3
1804 N. Shary Road
Monte Alto substation
Monte Alto Fire Department
25141 FM 188
Faith Baptist Church
4301 N. Shary Road
Pct. 3 – The Mansion
2401 N. Moorefield Road
Penitas Public Library
1111 S. Main St.
Pharr Memorial Library
121 E. Cherokee Ave.
850 W. Dicker Road
Valley View Fifth Grade
9701 S. Jackson Road
Progreso Community Center
510 FM 1015
San Juan substation
Fire Station No. 2
2301 N. Raul Longoria
Sullivan Fire Station
Business Visitor and Event Center
275 S. Kansas Ave.
Those with questions on the early voting schedule or substation locations, call the Hidalgo County Elections Department at (956) 318-2570. Office hours are from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. You can also email the department at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Starr County Early Voting
Sunday, Oct. 28……….8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Monday, Oct. 29………8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Tuesday, Oct. 30……..8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Wednesday, Oct. 31…8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Thursday, Nov. 1……..8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Friday, Nov. 2 …………8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Starr County Courthouse
401 N. Britton Ave., Rio Grande City
Roma Community Center
502 Sixth St., Roma
La Rosita Public Library
4192 W. US Hwy 83, La Rosita
El Cenizo PK Building
70 Old Casita Road, La Casita
Those with questions on the early voting and Election Day schedules and locations, call the Starr County Elections Department at (956) 716-4800.