Low voter turnout in McAllen: Less than 14,000 cast ballots out of more than 73,000 registered voters
With the runoff election set, McAllen voters will return to the polls next month to elect a new mayor and three city commissioners.
Officials said less than 14,000 people out of 73,000 registered voters in McAllen participated during last Saturday’s general election.
According to experts, the low turnout is typical for local elections across the country; timing plays a significant role when voters don’t show up.
Political Science Chair at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Clyde Barrow said people tend to think of elections happening in November when state and federal elections occur.
“Municipal elections typically occur in April or May,” Barrow said. “As a consequence people are not habituated to thinking about politics at that time of the year.”
Barrow said more money in the pockets of federal and state candidates helps mobilize voters, unlike local candidates who have fewer resources to get voters to the polls.
But Barrow says when residents allow a small group of people to determine who gets elected, it could lead to a lack of diverse decision-making in the future.
“The fact that the vast majority of people do not participate in municipal government or voice their concern to municipal officials means it’s a very small local elite [group] who gets to make policies,” Barrow said. “They will tend to make those policies satisfy themselves and constituencies.”