MCALLEN, RGV – Congressman Vicente Gonzalez says he hopes voter turnout in the Rio Grande Valley is not depressed due to residents being disillusioned by allegations of voter fraud in the region.
Gonzalez, who is up for reelection in November, spoke on a wide range of issues when appearing as the special guest of McAllen Chamber of Commerce’s governmental affairs committee.
Asked if the Valley’s historically low voter turnout is caused by disillusionment due to numerous allegations of voter fraud, Gonzalez said: “I hope not. I have tried to reach out to my supporters to ensure they come out to vote.”
According to AACT Now, a non-profit, non-partisan group that seeks to increase voter registration and participation in the Valley, the region historically sees a turnout of just over 20 percent in off-year, non-presidential, elections. Albert Morales, director of AACT Now, said the high-performing counties in Texas have a turnout of 40 to 45 percent in mid-term elections.
“We want to make sure we change that,” Morales told the Rio Grande Guardian. “We are trailing behind the high turnout counties such as Collin and Denton and Williamson counties. We want to be at parity with the top performing counties.”
Hidalgo County Elections Administrator Yvonne Ramon told NewsTalk 710 KURV: “Let’s make sure that the numbers go up. The last gubernatorial we were at 25.97 percent voter turnout. The last presidential we just a little bit over 50 percent. We need to do better. As of today we have got 362,815 registered voters. Let’s get out there and vote. We can do this. We need to topple… the state needs to recognize Hidalgo County has the community that goes out and votes. So, let’s do this together.”
If voters are too disillusioned to vote it could because of alleged voter fraud antics in cities such as Edinburg and Mission. In Edinburg, the Texas Rangers have arrested four people on charges of voter fraud related to last year’s city council election, with allegations that people voted despite not living in the city. In Mission, a visiting judge earlier this month voided the mayoral runoff election after finding the winning campaign engaged in a conspiracy to bribe voters and harvest mail-in ballots.
At the McAllen Chamber event, Congressman Gonzalez pointed to an election that could dramatically improve voter turnout.
“We have some interesting races. We have the U.S. Senate race, which has been sensationalized as you know. We have had thousands of people showing up for rallies. There is some excitement on both sides. I hope that race is impactful for our area in terms of increasing our voter turnout,” Gonzalez said.
The McAllen Democrat noted that voter registration has spiked in the Valley this year.
“I hope that registration translates into actual votes. I think Senator Hinojosa mentioned recently, ‘I have been to a lot of rallies. It is nice to have all these people show up and cheer but if they do not vote it doesn’t mean much.’ I hope that is not the case,” Gonzalez said, referring to recent comments by state Sen. Juan Hinojosa.
Gonzalez noted that there is a big dip in voter turnout in gubernatorial election years, as compared to presidential election years.
“In my campaign, we are heavily targeting that group of people, people who are pretty solid at voting, but not in gubernatorial years. It is an important election and I hope everyone makes it to the polls. The more we vote, the more attention our region gets.”
Congressman Gonzalez has two opponents in the general election. Tim Westley is the Republican candidate and Anthony Cristo is the Libertarian candidate.
Early voting is now underway and continues until Nov. 2. Election Day is Nov. 6.