PALMVIEW, Texas – A union activist from the western part of the Rio Grande Valley says today’s Democratic Party primary in Hidalgo County should be “redone” because voters in her area have been disenfranchised.

Alexia Anne Solis, of the American Federation of Texas, has complained to the Texas Democratic Party after learning that only one Election Day polling place is in operation west of Conway Avenue in Mission. 

That one location is in Sullivan County. There are no polling locations in Alton, Palmview, Palmhurst, Penitas or La Joya.

“I have the means to get to a polling location. I can go anywhere I want to go. But what about the people that don’t have vehicles. They do not have public transportation in Palmview. They don’t have bus routes. It is absolutely wrong. They are suppressing the vote,” Solis told the Rio Grande Guardian. 

Asked who “they” are, Solis said the leaders of Hidalgo County Democratic Party. She said the local party selects where the polling locations are. 

“Look at Alamo. You have one on Villarreal Road and one on the next road, Tower. They are not even a mile away from each other,” Solis said. “But on the west side, just one polling place. This election needs to be redone. The polling sites are not fairly distributed, therefore the turnout will be drastically impacted.”

The population of Alton is more than 20,000. The population of La Joya is more than 4,300 plus. The population of Penitas is more than 4,600. The population of Palmview is more than 5,700. The population of Palmhurst is more than 2,700.
“Tens of thousands of voters have been disenfranchised. They cannot get to the polls,” Solis said. 

The local daily newspaper in Hidalgo County, The Monitor, on Election Day morning published a list of polling locations and they included one each for Alton, Palmhurst, Palmview, Penitas and La Joya.

“That list is wrong. It is outdated,” Solis said. “The list was shrunk at the last minute. Why couldn’t Patrick have not given us more notice. We could have found election judges,” Solis said.

The “Patrick” Solis is referring to is Patrick Eronini, chairman of Hidalgo County Democratic Party. The local Democratic Party administers the polling locations on Election Day. Hidalgo County Elections Department administers the polling locations in the early voting period. 

Solis, who lives in Palmview, speculated that the lack of polling locations on the west side of Hidalgo County could have been designed to help a certain primary candidate.

“This is a political move because Patrick’s wife, or whatever she is, is on the ballot and she is not favorable in my area. There’s something nefarious going on,” Solis said, referring to Eronini and Hidalgo County Judge candidate Norma Ramirez. 

“Tania and Richard are stronger over here,” Solis said, referring to Norma Ramirez’s primary opponents, challenger Tania Ramirez and Hidalgo County Judge Richard Cortez.

The Rio Grande Guardian sent a text to Eronini for comment but he did not respond at press time.

Solis said she has voiced her concerns about “voter suppression” to Rose Clouston, an official with the Texas Democratic Party. She said she would also like help from LULAC and MALDEF.

“And another polling site gets shut down! Mission fire department is NO Longer a polling location,” Solis posted on Facebook early on the morning of Election Day.

“Please call and voice your concerns to the elections department 956-318-2570, to Patrick Eronini, (956) 309-5315, and to Gilberto Hinojosa, 512-478-9800,” Solis wrote on Facebook. 

“This election didn’t happen overnight. There was plenty of time to plan accordingly and even out polling locations throughout the county. This is ridiculous and something needs to be done.”

Gilberto Hinojosa is chairman of the Texas Democratic Party. 

Another Hidalgo County Democratic Party activist from the western side of Hidalgo County upset at the lack of polling locations on the west side is Danny Diaz. Like Solis, Diaz lives in Palmview.

“The fact that there is only one Democratic Party polling location in western Hidalgo County… when the vast majority of voters there vote in Democratic primaries… to me is a clear act of voter suppression,” Diaz said.

“At a time where we are fighting tooth and nail for our democracy and equal access to the ballot, it is unacceptable for local party administrators to mishandle this. It is totally irresponsible.”

Diaz said things have got to change at the top of Hidalgo County Democratic Party.

“Moving forward I call for the incoming Democratic Party leadership to form a special committee on Hidalgo County voter access, one that is transparent and open to the public to participate in. Our county continues to grow in population and registered voters. We should be adding polling locations, not gutting them,” Diaz said. 

A stalwart of the Hidalgo County Democratic Party is Rosalie Weisfeld. She voiced her displeasure at the location of the polling places on Facebook.

“Definitely stratigraphic voter suppression,” Weisfeld wrote. “When I was the Election Administrator for the Democratic Party Primary we had over 100 polling locations in Hidalgo County on Election Day. The administration has been cutting back those important local polling locations over the years.”

Wesifeld said she is “shocked” to see there are now only 42 polling locations countywide, especially since the county has grown so much.

“This is especially disheartening taking into consideration there is such a hotly contested congressional race in those cities without polling places. Election results often have nothing to do with the candidates but rather the way the election is designed. I am saddened to see this blatant disregard for voter rights,” Weisfeld wrote.

“May he rest in peace, if Billy Leo was still alive this would not have happened.”

The late Billy Leo served as mayor of La Joya for many years. He also served as Hidalgo County Clerk. 

“If I was still in charge I would not have let this happen. This is a clear example as to why we need the DOJ to oversee elections to protect voter access to voting,” Weisfeld said. 

DOJ stands for the Department of Justice. 

“Voter suppression is underway. So many cities do not have a polling place on Election Day, this is a travesty and will definitely impact the candidates running. Note, La Joya, Penitas, Alton, Progreso, McCook, San Manuel/Linn don’t have an Election Day polling location,” Weisfeld added. 


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