Voter count low at La Joya polling site

Early voter turnout has been low for La Joya’s mayor and commissioners election. As of Oct. 28, 772 people showed up at the “New” La Joya City Hall polling site, which has been open since Oct. 19.

Early voting ends Friday, Oct. 30 at 7 p.m. Election Day polls open Tuesday, Nov. 3 from 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. Voters must report to their respective polling sites for Election Day voting.

20141003 VOTE cropAccording to Hidalgo County’s unofficial report, the first day of early voting had the highest voter turnout at 170. For each day in the second week, the count has remained under 40, as of Oct. 28.

Mayoral candidate Mike Salinas said he believes people are choosing not to vote for fear of retaliation. He said some voters have told him they don’t want to be bombarded with people at the polling place tell them who to vote for.

“I’m not saying vote for me, just go and exercise your right to vote,” Mike Salinas said. “And if you do not feel comfortable voting at that particular location, you can vote anywhere in the county. But just go vote.”

Mike Salinas partnered with Maria Peña Salinas, who is running for place 4.

Mayor Jose “Fito” Salinas, who is running for reelection, said he has spoken to voters who aren’t aware of the local election. Fito Salinas heads the slate that consists of alderwoman Anna Lisa Ruiz, who is running for place 2, and Maria E. “Geny” Salinas, who is running for place 4.

“They told me that they didn’t want to come out just to vote for the propositions,” Fito Salinas said. “I think that’s the main problem, people are thinking that it’s only the propositions and not for any other race.”

Mayoral candidate Isidro Casanova, and his slate members did not respond to calls from the Progress Times before the article went to press. Alongside Casanova are Rosie Treviño, running for place 2, and Daniel Flores, who is running for place 4.

This year voting hours on were from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. the Monday through Friday for the first week and Monday through Wednesday for the second week. In the past voting hours have been from 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. during the week. The candidates believe the schedule change has hindered voter turnout because people usually work during the allotted hours.

Many of those camping at the polling site expected at least 200 people for Saturday, Oct. 24, but due to inclement weather only 108 turned out.

Victor Salinas, husband of commissioner place 2 candidate Maria Peña Salinas, said he was disappointed in the early numbers and worries about how they will affect state politics.

“I want my wife to win, I want Mike to win, but I want the voters to come and vote because that’s what makes a city grow,” Victor Salinas said. “If people don’t come to vote, the politicians in Austin won’t listen to you. Nobody will remember La Joya if you don’t vote.”

Both Mike and Fito Salinas said they feel good about where their slates stand thus far. However, Mike Salinas is aware that the candidates have to take voters’ word with a grain of salt.

“We’re doing pretty well. We’ve had a few people come in and tell us they voted for us or sent me texts or a phone call,” he said. “Of course there’s some of those that say ‘Hey, I voted for you.’ And then they go to the next camp and say the same thing.”

Fito Salinas said if his team’s calculations are correct, a runoff election will not be necessary.

“Our supporters are very positive with how we’re doing now,” he said. “We have a meeting every day, we talk about the numbers and make schedules for who is going to get the voters that have not come out to vote. I’m very confident with the way it’s coming out.”

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