Last day to register to vote approaches

Oct. 5 deadline 14 days away

MGN Online

Texas voters have just 13 days left to register to vote in the November 3 general election. Regardless of where you stand politically, ensuring you are registered means that you’ll be able to exercise your constitutional right to cast a ballot come election day.

The deadline for registering to vote in the 2020 general election is on October 5. For Texas residents already registered who wish to vote by mail, the Cameron County Elections Department must receive your request for a ballot by mail by Friday, October 23.

Due to reported delays at the U.S. Postal Service, residents should both request and submit mail-in ballots as early as possible. For an application to be mailed to you, call 956-544-0809.

Texas Election Code currently allows voters over 65 years of age, who have a disability or illness, are confined in jail with voting eligibility, or who will be out of the jurisdiction on election day to cast a ballot by mail.

Various lawsuits in Texas have sought to permit residents fearful of contracting COVID-19 to use the disability/illness category to qualify for a mail-in ballot.

The Texas Election Code’s definition of disability is a voter having a “sickness or physical condition” that prevents them from appearing in person to cast a ballot without personal assistance or the “likelihood of injuring the voter’s health”.

Another qualifying condition includes “confinement for childbirth” but does not include a lack of immunity from COVID-19.

Although Texas AG Ken Paxton has suggested otherwise, citing false claims that voting by mail leads to widespread voter fraud, a voter can consider their medical history alongside their lack of immunity when determining whether they meet that definition.

In Cameron County, Elections Administrator Remi Garza has confirmed on several occasions that election officials have no legal authority to ask a voter to prove that they have a disability, or to even question a voter’s marking of the “disability” category when reviewing an application.

It’s important to remember: if you are a U.S. citizen, at least 18 years of age on election day, and are not a convicted felon (the latter being a provision that advocates across the United States are pushing to reverse), it is your right to cast a ballot in a way that does not threaten your health and well being.

In Texas, early voting begins Tuesday, October 13 and runs through Friday, October 30.

In Cameron County, which according to the U.S. Census Bureau has a population approximately 90 percent Hispanic and a 27.9 percent poverty rate — one of the highest in the country — election officials have traditionally struggled with voter turnout.

According to Garza, 216,617 county residents were registered to vote on Monday. The administrator expects that number to reach well over 217,000 by the deadline, though the total represents only around half of the county’s estimated 423,163 residents.

This is already a higher registration turnout than in recent years. “Covid-19 held us back over the summer, but the demand has increased in the last two months,” Garza said.

The department is providing hand sanitizer and will disinfect polling booths, writing utensils, and stations frequently. Voters and poll workers must maintain a six-foot distance from each other and are required to wear masks.

For all information on how to register to vote and how to cast your ballot in Cameron County, visit cameronvotes.org , email elections@co.cameron.tx.us , or call (956) 544-0809. Otherwise, visit the Elections Department at 1050 East Madison St., Brownsville, TX 78520.

esheridan@brownsvilleherald.com