Early voting closed on Friday across the state of Texas and counties that held local elections along with the state’s 2017 Constitutional Amendment Elections amassed a total of 244,788 cumulative in-person and mail-in ballots cast.

Outsiders were surprised to see Hidalgo County had the second highest voter turnout in the state, with 4.89% of the total 345,162 registered voters casting their votes. According to the Secretary of the State’s website, 16,877 (unofficial) cumulative in-person and mail-in ballots were cast in early voting for Hidalgo County. Meanwhile, neighboring Cameron County had the lowest in the state at 1.33% with a meager 2,216 cumulative in-person and mail-ballots.

Hidalgo County held five city elections and one school election: City of Alamo, Donna, Hidalgo (Special), La Joya, Weslaco, Edinburg, Edcouch, and La Villa ISD. Some would suggest the increased voter participation is due to the highly-contested City of Edinburg mayoral race consisting of three candidates: incumbent Mayor Richard H. Garcia, Councilman Place One Richard Molina, and Gina Alamia, the daughter of Edinburg’s former mayor.

On Tuesday morning, at Hidalgo County Commissioner’s Court, Elections Administrator Yvonne Ramón reported that the unofficial totals in the county “have surpassed 2015 early voting totals by 7,000 votes.” 

After Hidalgo County recently saw upgrades in voting machines, extended voting hours, and began participation in a Countywide Polling Place Precinct Pilot Program, they have seen a dramatic increase in voter participation from 2015 constitutional election.

Texas Scorecard reached out to Yvonne Ramón, about the success rate they had in this election.

“We have already surpassed the total in 2015, 16,258; [we] already surpassed with unofficial early votes at 16,456.” As far as the new HART Verity-touch machines, on which the county spent $5.5 million for upgrades, Ramón has received nothing but positive feedback as “people are very happy with the upgrade; it’s so much smoother, they have more independence with access code.”

As far as the continuation in county-wide polling locations as well as extension of hours, she continued, “we now need to report back to the state, and we then have to apply for a permanent status. The commissioners court would also then approve the status as well as the continuation in extension of hours.”

“We already surpassed 2015, but we can always do better.” Ramón further states.

Miriam Cepeda

Miriam Cepeda is the Rio Grande Valley Bureau Chief for Texas Scorecard. A second-generation Mexican American, she is both fluent in English and Spanish and has been influential in grassroots organizing and conservative engagement within Hispanic communities. If you don’t find her “Trumping”, you can find her saving animals, running her dog, hiking the Andes, or volunteering with the U.S. National Park Service.