Cameron early votes surpass total in 2016 election

Brownsville residents continue to vote in large numbers as voters utilize curbside voting Wednesday at the Brownsville Public Library Main Branch. (Miguel Roberts/The Brownsville Herald)

Voters in Cameron County turned out in droves during the 18 days of early voting casting 86,901 in person ballots for the Nov. 3 General Election.

An additional 9,092 mail in ballots were received, bringing the total votes to 95,993. This exceeds the total votes of 93,716 cast in the 2016 election, officials said.

The numbers surpassed the in person early votes cast during the 2106 General Election and officials believe the high numbers were due to the COVID-19 pandemic and what is happening nationally in the country.

In an earlier interview, Remi Garza, the administrator for the county’s office of elections and voter registration said, “I honestly think COVID-19 is playing a factor because people are taking advantage of early voting to avoid crowds on the Election Day at the polls. But I also think the national news is filtering down to the local level at a much earlier point in the election cycle than before. A lot of the discussions that have been going on in the past couple of weeks and months, I think are registering on people’s consciences sooner so they are actually making decisions and are deciding whether they are going to vote or not,” Garza said.

Cameron County Commissioners Court last week approved additional voting hours for the last two days of early voting, allowing the polls to be open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. those final days.

Garza said voters, who make it a tradition of voting on Election Day, should show up earlier to the polls and find time in the day when the polls aren’t going to be crowded. The polls are usually crowded in the morning — right when they open because people are voting before they head to work — and in the early evening when people get out of work.

He said voters should also try to review the ballots prior to heading to the polls since straight party voting is no longer allowed. “If you decide that Election Day is the way you want to go, vote early and give your self plenty of time,” he said.

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.

The polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. during Tuesday’s General Election. Registered voters will have to vote at their designated precincts.