2 Valley Counties Not Complying with Voting Rights Act

Posted: Updated: Oct 11, 2016 07:36 PM

WESLACO - A Latino civil rights group found 36 Texas counties, including two Rio Grande Valley counties, were violating federal law by not providing voter information in Spanish online.

As of before noon on Tuesday, Hidalgo County fixed its website and is in compliance. However, Willacy County is still in violation.

The Hidalgo County’s election website provides information on how to vote. Last week, the county got a letter from the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund saying they weren’t providing enough information.

The civil rights group claimed dozens of counties across Texas were in violation of Section 203 of the Federal Voting Rights Act. They said they failed to provide voting information in Spanish.

Hidalgo County Election Administrator Yvonne Ramon said they started making changes as soon as they were notified.

“The law says that when the laws are updated or changed, we must receive direction from the state. So we received them on Thursday, started working on them Friday, and (when) we received the letter Friday, we were already working on it,” she said.

Ramon said the state sent out the bilingual posters late. She said everything any voter needs to know is now on the website in both languages.

“If we can’t, then we try to get you those links that will take you to the translations. We’re trying our best, but we can always do better. And I do believe we will do better once we get our new website,” she said.

A record of number of people are registered to cast a ballot in Hidalgo County.

“Everybody wants to vote because the consensus that a lot of people have is it’s the decision of the century or the millennium as opposed to, ‘oh, it’s just another election year,’” said registered voter Ian Bowen.

Ramon recommended all voters inform themselves on more than just the presidential election before heading to the polls.

“We’ve got several additional elections aside from the federal, state and county that are on the ballots. Do you know what’s on you ballot? Find out. Pull you sample ballot, look at it and be informed,” she said.

Ramon said people continue to register to vote just before the deadline.

“I wish that people would pay more attention and do it in time. Don’t do it at the last minute. Should have done it earlier,” said registered voter Lupe Rodriguez.

Hidalgo County said they also have sample ballots available in English and Spanish. They said people can look up what precinct you’re registered to vote in and go over their sample ballot.

CHANNEL 5 NEWS got in touch with Willacy County. They said the county’s IT person is working on fixing the website.

Early voting starts Oct. 24.

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