The clock is ticking for anyone who hasn’t registered to vote in the Nov. 6 mid-term elections. The deadline is Oct. 9, which is one month away, for an election that will decide races including Texas governor and U.S senator.
The last day to apply for a mail-in ballot is Oct. 26, which means the application must be received by — not postmarked to — the Cameron County Elections and Voter Registration Department.
County Elections Administrator Remi Garza said his department has a goal of getting 220,000 registered voters by 2020, and there are signs of progress. Cameron County had 186,000 registered voters in 2014 and now has over 204,000 registered voters, he said.
“We’re hopeful in the next couple of days we will get past the 205,000 mark,” Garza said.
The November ballot is stacked with races that heated up over the summer. Gov. Greg Abbott is facing challenges from Democrat Lupe Valdez and Libertarian Mark Jay Tippetts. Sen. Ted Cruz is in a high-profile battle for the junior Senate seat with Democrat U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke and Libertarian tech company founder Neal M. Dikeman.
District 34 U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela is up against challenger Rey Gonzalez, and Cameron County Judge Eddie Treviño Jr. is in a race against Republican candidate Carlos Cascos.
The Nov. 6 ballot will also include judicial, municipal, school board and bond elections, and Garza said sample ballots will be available within the next two weeks.
In a news release, Texas Secretary of State Rolando Pablos urged Texans to check their voter registration status online at www.votetexas.gov and become familiar with the types of acceptable identification at the polls on election day. They are:
>> Texas driver license
>> Texas ID card
>> Texas election identification certificate
>> Texas handgun license
>> U.S. military ID
>> U.S. citizenship certificate with photo
>> U.S. passport book or card
“Prepare yourself, inform yourself, and empower yourself,” he said. “As a Texas voter, you can set an example for your fellow Texans by showing your commitment to civic engagement.”
Garza credits the continued increase in registered voters to the elections department’s partners and deputy voter registrars.
“Our office can’t be open 24/7,” he said, so efforts from groups like the League of Women Voters, Su Clinica and Texas Rising allow Cameron County residents to register when it’s more convenient for them. “There are certain individuals that go door-to-door. They’re really the success behind this.”
“It’s a great way to make new friends,” Garza added jokingly, “because friends don’t let friends be unregistered to vote.”
He said his office has also increased the number of deputy voter registrar trainings and is “willing to do them almost on demand” for groups. Three are scheduled this week at Texas Southmost Technical College, Texas Southmost College and the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.
Garza said Cameron County residents can find voter registration forms at the Elections and Voter Registration Department, most county offices, public libraries, high schools or print them from the Texas Secretary of State website.
He encouraged anyone with questions to contact his department.
“We want to make sure everyone is vote-ready for 2018,” Garza said.
The Valley AIDS Council has partnered with Texas Rising to hold a voter registration pub crawl Sept. 15 in downtown Brownsville. Volunteers will help register voters 10 p.m. to midnight at Half Moon Saloon, the Kraken Lounge, Double Trouble, the Library at La Rioja and El Hueso de Fraile. Find more information at www.fb.com/VACSouthTexas.
Contact the Cameron County Elections and Voter Registration Department at (956) 544-0809 or online at www.co.cameron.tx.us/elections. Voter registration forms can be printed from the Texas Secretary of State website at www.sos.state.tx.us.