Early voting numbers come in

The preliminary numbers for the first week of early voting are in across the Mid-Valley.

Overall, voter turnout between Monday, April 22 and Saturday, April 27 has been slightly higher than the most recent comparable election in May 2017, according to Hidalgo County Elections Administrator Yvonne Ramón.

“It’s going very well,” Ramón said Monday, adding that 500 more people cast ballots in the first week of early voting this year compared to 2017.

The county is administering nine of the 11 elections taking place this spring. New this year is district-wide voting, a point Ramón stressed as a boon to voters.

With district-wide voting, voters can show up in person to any polling place in the county and cast their ballots for their local races.

“You can vote at any poll location,” Ramón said. “You can do the same this early vote and Election Day,” she said.

While early voter turnout has been slightly higher countywide, some sites in the Mid-Valley have seen low turnout.

In Weslaco, for example, where voters are being asked to decide on a $10 million bond proposition meant to fund drainage system improvements, only 100 people cast ballots at the Business Visitor & Event Center in the first six days of voting.

According to county officials, Weslaco has nearly 20,000 registered voters.

Meanwhile, in La Villa — a town with 1,358 registered voters — where three seats on the board of aldermen are up for grabs, 529 ballots have been cast as of Saturday.

In Donna, where 11,522 people are registered to vote, 344 voters had made their voices heard at Amigos Del Valle in the first week of voting. There, voters are deciding on three proposed amendments to the city charter.

And finally, in Mercedes, a town with 8,443 registered voters, a total of 535 people had cast their ballots to fill two hotly contested slots on the city commission.

Meanwhile, voters in the Edcouch-Elsa school district who had been gearing up to vote now have no ballot to cast after the school board of trustees cancelled a proposed $24.2 million bond election there less than a week before early voting started.

EEISD taxpayers will still be on the hook to pay some of the costs of the now-cancelled election.

“There will be a cost, because, like I said, we were already prepared to deliver,” Ramón said of the now-cancelled election. “We were delivering, in fact, that Thursday and they advised us that Wednesday, and so we didn’t deliver, although everything was ready to go,” she said.

However, the county election administrator expected the cost to be minimal — a benefit of the newer voting equipment now in use.

“With our new voting equipment that is so much more advanced technologically, we were at a point where we are able to shut those machines off. We wouldn’t have been able to do that with the old equipment,” Ramón said.