On the eve of the most overheated presidential election in memory, Cameron County Elections Administrator Remi Garza was predicting a fairly normal election here.
While he anticipated a busy Election Day, Garza said he didn’t think the thousands of voters expected to cast their votes today would be greeted by extremely long lines or wait times.
“We really think that there’s still at least another 20,000 to 30,000 individuals who have yet to vote for this election,” he said. “There are a lot of people that are committed to coming out on Election Day, and so we think they’re going to return to that same behavior tomorrow. … It should feel like just any other election at this point.”
What’s not normal about this election is the county’s record-breaking early voting turnout, Garza said, noting that early voting — in-person and ballot-by-mail — exceeded total 2016 turnout by around 2,700 voters.
“This election is already one for the books,” Garza said. “Historically in our big elections we’ve hovered around the 46 to 48 percentile of our registered voters, but I really strongly believe that we’re going to exceed 50 percent this year.”
In addition to the presidential election, this year’s ballot includes races for U.S. Senator, U.S. Rep District 34, Cameron County Sheriff and District Clerk, state judicial races, five places on the Brownsville Independent School District Board of Trustees, two on the Texas Southmost College Board of Trustees, and three on the Brownsville Navigation District board.
Processing of the 86,000 in-person early voting ballots received was complete at 2 a.m. Monday, he said, adding that ballots-by-mail would be processed Monday night. Today the department will finish processing any additional ballots-by-mail received, then wait for Election Day results to come in, Garza said.
As of Monday morning ballots and supplies had been delivered to the presiding judges at every polling places, he said. The county’s 73 polling locations will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Voters can find their polling place by visiting the elections department website at cameronvotes.com or calling the elections department at (844) 226-8683 or (956) 544-0809.
It’s important that voters contact the elections department with any questions in order to get accurate, up-to-date information and avoid misinformation, Garza said.
“This is the best source,” he said.
Garza also advised voters to study their sample ballots before heading to the polls in order to know who they’re going to vote for to minimize the amount of time spent at the polling place. He encouraged all the county’s eligible voters to exercise their civic duty and rights as citizens.
“We have an obligation to each other to participate in this process,” Garza said. “The society and the communities that we build, we need to make sure we’re doing everything we can that it reflects who we are and what we value.”
The fewer the voters who engage in the democratic process, the greater the disconnect between the government and the people, he said.
Meanwhile, amid reports of polling place violence or attempted voter intimidation in some parts of the country, Garza said he does not expect such things to be an issue in Cameron County.
“We are preparing for most eventualities with our local law enforcement and our district attorney’s office, but I certainly don’t anticipate that we’re going to have anything even remotely close to what we’re seeing happening up north,” he said. “That just doesn’t seem to be the way we live our lives down here in South Texas.”