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Starr Co. Early Voting Turnout Explained

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RIO GRANDE CITY – Early voting wrapped up Friday, but already there's a marked difference in voter turnout numbers this year compared to the last midterms of 2014. 

Anytime a president is not on the ballot, it hurts turnout, which is common for midterms; this year, it's different.

Walking is a little difficult for veteran Camilo Estevis, but it doesn't stop him from coming to the polls in Starr County.

"It's a privilege and an honor," Estevis says.

It's been about 10 years since he's voted, but he tells us the caravan and immigration topic brought him out to these midterms.

"A lot of turmoil with the government," he explains. 

He's one of the 17.5 percent of registered voters who have voted in Starr County as of Thursday.

It's higher than early voting when President Trump was on the ballot in 2016, and it's almost the same amount that voted during the last midterms of 2014.

Still, Starr is behind Hidalgo and Cameron counties.

As of Thursday, Hidalgo County had 27.7 percent of its registered voters cast their ballot and in Cameron 21.6 percent – both also beat their 2014 turnouts. 

Willacy County has the lowest turnout, so far, with only 12.2 percent of casting their vote.

There are theories about why Starr County fails to reach the others.

"I don't know if it's voter apathy. I don't know if it's voter fatigue," says Judy Soliz, Starr County Democratic Chair and school board candidate.

That school board race that Soliz is running in isn't on the ballot at the courthouse site.

"The school district decided we're not going to have it where the county is at," says Judge Eloy Vera.  

Voters have to go to Roma to vote there for school board, county and state races.

The site in Roma is a joint polling site and this time, it's the most popular place to vote.

As of Thursday, about 3,400 people voted there; that's opposed to the 2,181 people who voted at the Rio Grande City Courthouse site.

The courthouse is traditionally the most visited. Judge Vera believes this decision negatively affects their turnout.

No matter who you ask, all believe voting is important for different reasons.

Judge Vera thinks of going before the Legislature to ask for funding.

He believes the votes help convey influence.

"So when you go out there and you say, ‘I'm from Starr County’ and they look and you bring in 30,000 votes, well it carries a lot more weight than if you carry 3,000 votes," he says. 

For others, voting is a priceless act.

"It's a privilege that our ancestors have given us," says Estevis.  

Election Day is coming up and Starr County can still turn it around.

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