Early voting is set to begin Monday with constitutional amendments and local elections on the ballot in the Rio Grande Valley.

Eight constitutional amendments and municipal elections for six cities in Hidalgo County will be decided in the upcoming Nov. 2 general election. And as residents prepare to head to the polls, the county is continuing to take safety precautions.

“(Voters) can expect that we will continue to provide a safe environment,” Hidalgo County Elections Administrator Yvonne Ramón said when asked about whether COVID-19 protocols would be implemented. “We cannot mandate that anyone use masks, but we can certainly, very respectfully request that everyone follow the protocols to keep safe.”

This comes after Gov. Greg Abbott issued a mandate earlier this month that now prevents private employers as well as cities, counties and other local governments from requiring COVID-19 vaccinations. The order also comes months after Abbott issued an order barring local governments from requiring people to wear masks.

“What we ask is that everyone follow safe guidelines because we want everyone to have a safe environment when they walk in,” Ramón said. “They are going to continue to practice all of the cleaning and the disinfecting and those types of protocols that have always been in place. As I was telling them, the flu is down, the virus is down, and I believe it has everything to do with the extra steps that everyone is taking.”

Ramón said that the county is also taking steps to help voters be more prepared and knowledgeable about what they are voting for in this coming election.

“I encourage everyone to go on our website (www.hidalgocounty.us), and look at their sample ballots because we have got constitutional amendments on the ballot,” Ramón said. “There are explanatory statements that they can read so they can better understand what these propositions are. The secretary of state provides these, so they’re on our website. It gives you a little clearer understanding of what it is you’re voting for or against during this constitutional amendment.”

There are eight propositions on ballots throughout the county.

According to the amendments, if passed they would do the following: 

>> Prop 1 would authorize the professional sports team charitable foundations of organizations sanctioned by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, or the Women’s Professional Rodeo Association, to conduct charitable raffles at rodeo venues;

>> Prop 2 would authorize a county to finance the development or redevelopment of transportation or infrastructure in unproductive, underdeveloped, or blighted areas in the county;

>> Prop 3 would prohibit the state or a political subdivision from prohibiting or limiting religious services of religious organizations;

>> Prop 4 would change the eligibility requirements for a justice of the supreme court, a judge of the court of criminal appeals, a justice of a court of appeals, and a district judge;

>> Prop 5 would provide additional powers to the State Commission on Judicial Conduct with respect to candidates for judicial office;

>> Prop 6 would establish a right for residents of certain facilities to designate an essential caregiver for in-person visitation;

>> Prop 7 would allow the surviving spouse of a person who is disabled to receive a limitation on the school district ad valorem taxes on the spouse’s residence homestead if the spouse is 55 years of age or older at the time of the person’s death;

>> and Prop 8 would authorize the legislature to provide for an exemption from ad valorem taxation of all or part of the market value of the residence homestead of the surviving spouse of a member of the U.S. armed services killed or fatally injured in the line of duty.

“Take the time now to read them over and understand them before you head out to the polls,” Ramón urged.

In addition to the amendment proposals, there are six municipalities holding elections including the cities of Alamo, Donna, Edcouch, Edinburg and La Joya. Ramón said that voters can visit the Hidalgo County Elections Department website and look up their respective ballots.

Arguably one of the hottest races on the ballots in the Valley is the Edinburg mayoral race, with incumbent Mayor Richard Molina being challenged by former Edinburg City Manager Ramiro Garza and former Edinburg City Councilman Gilbert Enriquez.

Ramón also reminded that residents can vote in their particular elections at any polling location in the county.

“Hidalgo County is called a countywide county,” Ramón said. “That means that during early voting, as well as Election Day, anywhere they see that a polling location is open, they can stop and vote there. Why? Because their ballot is everywhere.”

“It’s important that they go to our website and they look at our 28 early voting polling locations, and understand that they can vote at any of them.”

Polls will be open for early voting beginning Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 24. Early voting will continue Monday, Oct. 25 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. through Friday, Oct. 29.

Election Day is Nov. 2.

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