More voting early in Hidalgo County than in 2016

There has been an increase of Hidalgo County early voters casting their ballots between the 2016 and 2020 primary elections, according to unofficial daily and cumulative early voting statistics.

The early voting tally in Hidalgo County as of Wednesday, the ninth day of early voting in the March primary, reached 39,494 early votes. In comparison, 36,852 early votes were cast during the same stretch of time in the 2016 primary election — a difference of 2,642, or roughly 7%.

There are currently 378,743 registered voters in the county.

“We went from 317,000 (registered voters) to 379,000 this morning,” said Hidalgo County Elections Administrator Yvonne Ramon, explaining the higher percentage of early voters in this year’s primary election as opposed to the 2016 election.

Ramon also said that the local races on this year’s ballots may be generating more interest among local voters.

“The number two reason would be the local races that really, really drive voters to the poll locations,” Ramon said. “It depends on if there is a race that possibly in 2016 did not have opposition, and now they do.”

Voters are casting their ballots for federal, state and county races as well as 10 Republican ballot propositions and 11 Democratic propositions.

“We have a couple of races where those areas, where the races are taking place, especially in the west, are really driving the voters out,” Ramon said. “You’ll see that our district judges rarely have any opposition, yet some of the county races have opposition this time around. Definitely a lot of participation we see.”

In the local races, several long-tenured moderate Democratic incumbents are seeing challenges mounted by more members of their party, including U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, who is being challenged by immigration and human rights attorney Jessica Cisneros, and Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr. who is facing Ruben Cortez Jr., and Sara Stapleton-Barrera.

Also on the ballot is the race for Hidalgo County sheriff. Incumbent J.E. “Eddie” Guerra faces off against Frank Guerrero and Raul Salinas. The winner of this race will be challenged by the sole GOP candidate, Ezequiel “Zeik” Jurado in November.

Hidalgo County voters will also select judges for two new courts approved by the Texas legislature during the last session.

In Starr County, Omar Escobar, the district attorney for the 229th judicial district, is being challenged by attorney Gocha Ramirez. The race drew no Republican challengers.

Voters will also be casting their ballots for the presidential race, which currently consists of seven Republican candidates who will challenge President Donald Trump, as well as 17 presidential candidates on the Democratic ballot.

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-TX, will face four challengers within his own party, while a dozen candidates are competing to run as the Democratic challenger in November.

Voters may find the complete list of primary races by contacting their local elections department.

“I would like to still tell our community, Hidalgo County voters, get out to vote,” Ramon said. “Although we have been number one across the state compared to the top 10 to 12 largest counties, it’s still low. I mean, 379,000 registered voters — we need everyone to get out there and vote.”

Friday is the last day for early voting before Tuesday’s primary election. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

There are 73 poll locations in the county, and Hidalgo County voters can cast their votes at any of the poll locations.

“It’s so important to let our community know that we are what is called ‘county-wide,’ which means that their ballot will be at all 73 locations,” Ramon said. “Don’t waste time and head out to your one poll location like it used to be in the past. Your ballot will be at all 73.”