MCALLEN, Texas – The Texas Republican Party might not like it happening in Harris County but it is permitted and one of the other counties offering the service is Hidalgo County.

We are talking about drive-thru and curbside voting. 

One supporter of the option is U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez.

“Very important to report, you can vote from your vehicle. You don’t have to get out. You can wear your mask. If people are concerned, they can do it from their car,” Gonzalez said, just before he went in to vote.

The Texas Tribune reports that the state GOP had filed suit Monday night asking a federal court to place limits on curbside voting and halt drive-thru voting. But, the suit was thrown out.

“The appellate judges said the party and a voter who filed the suit did so too late, and did not show how they specificallymight beinjured by the voting practices,” the Tribune reported. “The lawsuit was filed just hours before early voting polls opened and more than a month after the Harris County Clerk announced his plan for drive-thru voting.”

Gonzalez said he liked the idea of curbside voting at Hidalgo County’s 31 early voting locations. He said he also likes the measures Harris County has introduced to make it easier for voters to exercise their democratic right.

“Harris County has shown the way on how to secure a huge turnout and it is based on making it easier to vote, including a lot more early voting locations. They have provided the roadmap for Hidalgo County to follow, so we can, in future, see these astronomical increases in voter participation. This is great for democracy,” Gonzalez said.

Hidalgo County Elections Administrator Yvonne Ramon was asked about curbside voting when interviewed by KURV News Talk 710.

“People can stay in their car, look for the signs and vote curbside,” Ramon said. In her interview with KURV, Ramon said those wishing to vote early can do so at any early voting location, not just the one nearest to their home. 

Turnout was up on the first and second day of early voting in Hidalgo County and in all the major urban areas of Texas. On day one, 24,974 voters voted in Hidalgo County. In 2016 the number was 23,457. On day two, 17,957 voters voted in Hidalgo County. In 2016 the number was 16,036.

Gonzalez believes the COVID-19 pandemic is driving people to the polls. 

“I am very excited about all the people coming out to vote. They are voting for healthcare justice. They are voting for more attention for our region. We were hit the hardest with people dying at three and four times the rate than the rest of the state. I think that is what is driving people to the polls. This is the way we get our attention in America.”

Gonzalez said it is clear to see there is “tremendous enthusiasm” for casting a ballot this election cycle.

“Clearly, there is an enthusiasm across the state and certainly here in South Texas. I think people that didn’t vote four years ago felt the repercussions for four years and could not wait to get back out to the polls. There was something of a quiet feeling before early voting and I was concerned myself. But, when I saw those droves of numbers (I was relieved). And I continue to see them today and I think we will see them all the way through early voting and all the way to Election Day,” Gonzalez said.

“It is clear people want change, people want help. People are going through a very difficult pandemic herein our region. A lot of people have died and are sick in the hospitals. We did not receive the resources we should have received from the state and federal government and I think people are protesting at the polls.”

Indeed, Gonzalez said there may not be much need for another debate between the two presidential candidates because most voters have already made up their minds. 

“I think everybody has already made up their mind. By the time people have gotten out of their cars, they have made up their mind. It does not matter what people are yelling and screaming and holding up signs. Their minds are made up.”

Asked what he thought about comments from former state Rep. Beto O’Rourke of El Paso that if Texas sees a huge increase in vote totals it will mean Democrats coming out on top, Gonzalez:  “I think so. I think there is a very good chance. If it doesn’t, it is going to be right on the cusp and it will happen next election. We have been at this for a while. Any Republican on the ticket is at risk today.”

Gonzalez spoke to reporters outside the early voting location in Fisherman’s Park, McAllen. Asked how he would be voting, Gonzalez said: “I am voting for myself, that is for sure. I am voting for Joe Biden and I am voting a straight ticket all the way down.”

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