Early voting is set to begin Monday for a few school districts and municipalities throughout Hidalgo County, but even as more of the population is vaccinated against COVID-19, local officials plan to continue implementing safety measures at polling locations throughout the area.
In short, masks are still required at the polls, as well as social distancing.
“We met with our judges (Friday), and they came to pick up their supplies. We went over ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliance, the COVID strategies that we have implemented already since we started way back last year,” Hidalgo County Elections Administrator Yvonne Ramon said Friday. “We will continue to provide all the PPEs for them and for any community voters without a mask. Don’t worry, we always have extra.”
She said that judges were provided with cleaning supplies so that areas can be disinfected.
The department has been contracted to administer elections for the city of San Juan and the McAllen, Sharyland and Mission school districts. Ramon said that voters can vote at any of the 10 polling locations in the county.
Voters are encouraged to visit the Hidalgo County Elections website where polling locations and sample ballots are available to view.
The cities of Pharr and McAllen are administering their own elections.
Michelle Lopez, chief communications officer for the city of Pharr, said residents can expect the same type of election that has been run in the past.
“We are still practicing social distancing since there’s still COVID around,” Lopez said. “We want to make sure that everyone is safe. We are requiring masks. If they don’t have a mask we can provide one for them. We also will have Q-tips, gloves and sanitizer available. Again, practice social distancing, but come out to vote because it is an election year. We want to make sure that people are making their voices heard and coming out to vote.”
Pharr residents will be able to cast their ballots at the Jose “Pepe” Salinas Recreation Center, located at 1011 W. Kelly Street, and the Development & Research Center, located at 850 W. Dicker Road. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Monday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.
Polls will be closed Sunday, April 25, and reopen Monday, April 26 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
“Just because you’re vaccinated does not mean that you’re 100% protected,” Lopez said. “We want to make sure that we’re still practicing all the safety guidelines by the CDC.”
McAllen City Secretary Perla Lara also explained that polling locations will continue to adhere to COVID-19 safety protocols at McAllen polling sites.
“We’ll have face coverings available in the event that you don’t have one,” Lara said. “If for any reason you are unable to wear one, we are going to be offering curbside for our citizens who are coming in to vote. We will have two safety monitors cleaning and disinfecting the area. We will be taking precautions.”
She said that residents may also vote by mail. The last day to apply for a mail-in ballot is on Tuesday.
Polls will be open 12 hours every day beginning Monday, April 19 through Tuesday, April 27. Times and locations can be found at the city’s website, www.mcallen.net.