City of Peñitas takes legal action against Hidalgo County over lack of polling location

11 months 1 week 13 hours ago Thursday, October 20 2022 Oct 20, 2022 October 20, 2022 10:31 PM October 20, 2022 in News - Local

The city of Peñitas filed a temporary restraining order against Hidalgo County in response to the county removing the Peñitas Public Library as a polling location for the November 2022 election. 

Under the TRO, the city plans to prevent the county from holding its general election, according to a news release from the city of Peñitas.

The TRO was filed Thursday and names the Hidalgo County Elections Department, county interim elections administrator Hilda A. Salinas, and Hidalgo County Precinct 3 Commissioner Everardo “Ever” Villarreal.

Last week, the county said it didn’t receive a request to use the library as a polling location until after the deadline to submit them had passed. 

RELATED: Peñitas mayor pushing to bring polling location back to the city

Records show nearly 3,400 people voted early in Peñitas during the 2020 election — more than the combined early votes collected in the nearby cities of La Joya and Sullivan City.

Without the Peñitas Public Library polling location, western Hidalgo County residents will have to travel to the La Joya Youth Center or the Palmview Recreation Center.

The Thursday news release called the removal of the polling location a “violation of the Texas Election Code, the Texas Constitution, the United States Constitution and the Voting Rights Act.”

The La Joya Independent School District and the Agua Special Utility District are holding elections in November. 

According to the news release, the TRO seeks a declaratory judgment that the county can’t proceed with both elections if the Peñitas Public Library is not one of the polling locations.

“The county’s actions will detrimentally disenfranchise eligible voters in Peñitas from voting in this very important election, and unless the Peñitas Public Library poll location is named a voting site, these elections cannot proceed.”  Peñitas Mayor Ramiro Loya stated in the news release.

Early voting begins Monday, October 24.

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