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Elections Administrator Remi Garza looks over election information materials Wednesday, Feb. 9, 2022, at the Cameron County Department of Elections & Voter Registration in Brownsville. (Denise Cathey/The Brownsville Herald)

Tuesday is the last day Cameron County residents who want to vote in the Nov. 7 Special Joint Election will be able to register.

Remi Garza, county elections administrator, encouraged residents to register and vote, especially in light of the important city elections, school district taxing questions and state constitutional amendments on the ballot for Nov. 7, noting that the last day to register was extended one day because of Columbus Day.

“It’s extremely important that we partake in each election as it comes,” he said.

The election will decide two tax-ratification propositions, for the Brownsville Independent School District and the Point Isabel Independent School District. BISD’s Proposition A concerns ratifying the district’s ad valorem tax rate of $1.030964 for the current year, which would result in “an increase of minus 15.173924 percent in maintenance and operations tax revenue for the district for the current year as compared to the preceding year which is an additional minus $10,431,345.”

Point Isabel ISD’s Proposition A regards ratifying the district’s ad valorem tax rate of $0.825 for the current year, which would result in “an increase of 8.74 percent in maintenance and operations tax revenue for the current year as compared to the preceding year, which is an additional $3,681,201.”

In the Los Fresnos Consolidated ISD general election, Juan Sierra and Kevin Michael Montes are running against each other for the Board of Trustees Place 3 seat, while Jesus “Toy” Amaya is running unopposed for Place 4.

In the city of Los Fresnos General Election, also on the Nov. 7 ballot are Alejandro Flores and Rosa Munoz Vallejo who are running against each other for mayor, while Albert “Al” Escobedo and Joe C. Macias are competing for the Place 3 council seat.

The city of Santa Rosa holds a special election for Proposition A, which would adopt a four-year term for mayor and aldermen “providing that the term of the mayor and aldermen currently elected shall remain at three years; and further providing that at each subsequent election … the term to be voted upon shall be four years.”

The city of South Padre Island holds a general election on Nov. 7, with Mayor Patrick McNulty running unopposed, and Rees Langston and Tally Ragsdale vying for Place 4 on the city council.

County voters also will be asked to help decide 14 constitutional amendments appearing on the ballot compliments of state lawmakers. Some address taxation issues, including whether lawmakers should be prohibited from imposing a “wealth tax” without approval of voters; whether child-care facilities and medical equipment should be tax exempt in certain cases, and whether the homestead exemption for homeowners should be raised to $100,000 from the current $40,000.

Two of the propositions relate specifically to El Paso and Galveston counties, while another would raise mandatory and minimum retirement ages for state judges.

A view of Cameron County Elections and Voter Registration Office in downtown Brownsville Friday morning, Aug. 26, 2022. (Miguel Roberts/The Brownsville Herald)

Garza thinks the homestead exemption proposition, Proposition 4, is an especially good reason to register to vote, update voter registration, and get to the polls or otherwise vote in this election.

“I think Proposition 4, which is the increase to the homestead exemption for school district taxes, is an opportunity for people to keep more of their money,” he said. “If that isn’t a motivating issue I don’t know what could be.”

That’s not the only reason to vote, Garza said.

“Any time there’s a general election for representatives on school boards and cities it’s extremely important, because those are the people who’ll be serving for a couple of years, representing you on their councils,” he said. “I just want to remind everybody that the sample ballots and the explanations are available on the website, cameronvotes.com, and if they have any questions they just contact us.”

The Cameron County elections department phone number is (956) 544-0809. Early voting begins Oct. 28 and ends Nov. 3. The last day to apply for a ballot by mail is Oct. 27, and the last day to receive a ballot by mail is Nov. 7, Election Day.

Garza said his department is well along on preparations for the election, and that new equipment is being rolled out for it: an American with Disabilities Act-compliant voting system called ExpressVote. It replaces the previous system, AutoMARK, and will be easier for voters to use, he said.

“We’re going to be doing public demonstrations around the county over this week, and then we will do it again in anticipation of the turnout during the primaries,” Garza said.

He said he hopes the new system will further the county’s “ultimate goal of goal of countywide voting.”

“Similar to what they do in Hidalgo County right now on Election Day, it’s like early voting, where you can go into any polling location and find your ballot,” Garza said. “Right now everybody has to go to their individual precincts on Election Day. So this would help people that are (in the) wrong part of town as the polls are getting set to close.

“It’s a different approach,” he said. “It requires some different logistics from us and some different capabilities that we’re hoping to roll out and have in place before the November 2024 election.