As the Oct. 4 deadline approaches for voter registration across the state and the Rio Grande Valley in order to vote in the Nov. 2 Uniform Election, election officials in Cameron and Hidalgo counties are experiencing an increase in voter registrations.
Officials in both counties attribute the increases to the reopening of in-school learning in the RGV school districts with high schools providing students who are eligible to vote with voter registration applications.
Remi Garza, elections administrator for Cameron County’s Election and Voter Registration Department, and Belinda Sagredo, voter registrar manager for the Hidalgo County Elections Department, anticipate the number of registered voters in their counties could reach about 221,000 in Cameron County by Nov. 2 and 400,000 in Hidalgo County by Nov. 2 or by the end of the year.
As of Tuesday, Cameron County had 220,098 registered voters and as of Sept. 21 in Hidalgo County, the county had 398,465.
With mayoral races, bond elections, the creation of drainage districts and propositions on the ballots, these are important issues to not only get out people to register to vote but to go out and vote on election day as well.
“We are hoping to reach” those numbers, Sagredo said. “Now that everybody has gone back to school and now that we have seniors back in class there are some schools that are actually bringing voter registration cards from their high schools. We are hoping we’ll hit that 400,000 mark soon.”
Sagredo said one high school has already brought voter registration applications to the elections office and that she hopes other high schools will do the same.
Tuesday was National Voter Registration Day with voter registration day events taking place in both Cameron and Hidalgo counties. Hidalgo County kept its voter registration office open until 7 p.m. to register voters, and both University of Texas Rio Grande Valley campuses in Brownsville and Edinburg held voter registration drives.
In Cameron County, Garza said his elections office is seeing a lot of registrations at the Texas Department of Public Safety offices were voters are either registering or updating their voter registration information.
“We are receiving a lot of applications that people are filling out or updating when they go and renew their licenses. We are processing those and sometimes we will have 100 on a given day,” Garza said.
Like Hidalgo County, Garza said Cameron County is experiencing an uptick in voter registrations at the high schools and expecting this to continue in the fall and in spring with a primary election coming up in March 2022.
Election officials in both counties say they are always trying to find ways to increase voter participation in elections, especially in elections that many voters might not be aware of or not have enough information about such as the Nov.2 Uniform Election where eight state propositions will be on the ballot.
Although Texans around the state will be voting on state propositions, there will be some local elections on the ballot as well that will draw local interest. Such is the case for the City of Edinburg where there’s a mayoral race. Sagredo said it is races such as this and other local races that draw voters to the polls since the outcome will affect the community that the voter resides in.
Garza said his office always looks for ways to increase voter participation in all elections. “What we have seen in Cameron County is a marked increase for each election cycle in participation….We did see a period when you look in the past 20 years of a dip in participation but it seems to be coming back where we are looking at some of our historic numbers and getting really close to passing them.”
Both counties hope they will see an influx of people registering to vote over the next few days.
Cameron County Elections Office will be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. — and during the lunch hour — Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Monday. The office is located at 1050 E. Madison Street, and for more information, call (956) 544-0809.
Hidalgo County Offices will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. — and during the lunch hour — Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Monday. The office is located at 213 S. Closner Blvd., and for more information, call (956) 318-2570.