Voter registration events taking place today

(Jason Hoekema/The Brownsville Herald)) A woman enters a polling location Monday, in Brownsville. Early voting for the mid-term elections is underway and some polls will be open today and Sunday.

Considering the percentage of the electorate that historically sits out midterm elections, you’d think those elections aren’t important.

In fact, like presidential elections, the results of midterms can have a profound effect on quality of life for communities, though to vote in an election you have to be registered. Today’s National Voter Registration Day event at the Brownsville Community Health Center, 191 E. Price Rd., is an ideal opportunity to do that, as is a similar event taking place today at Junior’s Supermarket, 108 S.H. 495 in San Juan.

Both sessions are scheduled to take place 10 a.m. to noon, and are being hosted by the Rio Grande Valley Equal Voice Network. Like hundreds of similar events taking place across the nation, the goal is to get more Americans engaged in the democratic process come November and beyond. National Voter Registration Day, a nonpartisan initiative, was founded in 2012.

Michelle Serrano, RGV-EVN communications strategist, said every election is important since the impact on communities can be significant.

“If they don’t get the community’s input or they don’t feel the pressure from the community to do the right thing, often you’ll see a lot of disconnect between community members and what our elected officials are trying to do,” she said. “Every vote matters. Every single election matters.”

Voter Registration Day is effective as long as it results in somebody getting registered, Serrano said. Whether it brings about policy changes “depends on whether policymakers listen to us,” she said. The low voter turnout typically seen during midterms is because people aren’t engaged and don’t understand the issues, Serrano said.

“We’re constantly saying learn about the process and what it takes to make an informed vote,” she said. “It’s an ongoing thing. We think this is definitely something that improves voter turnout and voter education.”

Serrano said today’s poisonous political climate and outbreaks of deadly violence such as the recent El Paso shooting should serve as a wakeup call to citizens who have been sitting out elections — especially the younger generation.

“We want them to understand that their vote is absolutely important to make the world a better place, especially since they’re inheriting it,” she said.

If you go to the Brownsville Community Health Center or Junior’s Supermarket in San Juan today to register to vote, be sure to bring along a driver’s license or state-issued Texas ID, Serrano said.

For Cameron County voters, Nov. 5 is a constitutional amendment election, featuring 10 separate propositions, said county elections supervisor Remi Garza. Also, voters outside municipalities will be asked to decide on creation of a Cameron County Assistance District and accompanying sales/use tax to address flooding and drainage issues, while voters within the Santa Maria Independent School District will be faced with a bond issue, he said.

Garza said he’s behind National Voter Registration Day and RGV-EVN’s voter registration events all the way.

“We encourage everybody who is eligible and who resides in a Texas county to register to vote,” he said. “You can’t vote if you’re not on the list.”

sclark@brownsvilleherald.com