This Saturday we had a very enthusiastic day of action raising awareness about the early vote and animating our community members to take advantage of voting in any polling location in Hidalgo County. LUPE and ARISE held four marches to the polls with over 100 community members in attendance. Those participating that hadn’t yet voted marched right up to the polling place and cast their ballots for candidates reflecting their views on the most important issues facing Valley families (link opens PDF in Spanish).
Saturday’s enthusiasm matches enthusiasm all over Hidalgo and Cameron County to get out and vote. Last week, the Texas Tribune published an article reporting an upsurge in participation in early voting over the 2006 gubernatorial elections. Overall, participation in early voting has doubled over the 2006 numbers and in Hidalgo County, has risen by 236%.
Antonia Suarez, LUPE member and first time voter, reflects this enthusiasm: “I realized a dream that I had for a long time but could never accomplish [because I was not a citizen]. It was a dream because I saw people voting and I finally did myself.”
Valley families are voting their voice on a variety of issues at the local, state and federal level. While immigration reform is one of our main issues, we are also voting for more affordable health care, better schools, and better communities. “Voting has benefits for many things,” Antonia says. “For me, it’s getting health care, because I’m older and it would be very beneficial to have health care.”
Now that early voting is in full swing and the countdown to Election Day has begun, organizers are gearing up for the final push to raise the voting rate by 10% in their districts.
“We’re pulling out all the punches,” says LUPE organizer Javier Parra. “We’re calling up everyone that’s signed up to volunteer and reminding them that this is our last chance to bring people out to vote.” All of the LUPE organizers are redoubling their block walking efforts and reinforcing them with phone banking. “We are calling all those that have committed to voting and the new voters that registered earlier this year.”
Organizers are also planning special events to encourage voting. “In Alton we are inviting everyone to come vote this Thursday at City Hall,” says Parra, “We’ll be having a BBQ at the park next door for all those who vote that evening.”
Early voting ends this Friday. During early voting any registered voter can cast their ballot in any polling place in Hidalgo County. On Nov. 2nd, voters will only be able to vote in their assigned polling station in their precinct.
Stay tuned for a short video on why LUPE members are participating in the Mi Voto = Mi Voz Campaign.