FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 16, 2008
This election year I join our new Secretary of State Hope Andrade in encouraging people to vote and to do so early to avoid long lines.
Ms. Andrade says that her office "is committed to ensuring that every eligible Texan has an opportunity to exercise their right to vote and participate in fair and credible elections."
Early voting runs from Oct. 20 to 31, and polls are open even on weekends to help those with hectic schedules.
Unfortunately, low voter turnout is prevalent in this country, and especially in regions like South Texas. We can change that! Today's early voting system provides greater convenience for people to exercise this fundamental right regardless of party preference or political affiliation. No one should stay home either during early voting or on Nov. 4, Election Day.
Most tend to agree that in these elections involvement by our younger generation is unprecedented and should have far-reaching implications for everyone. For South Texas, our young voter registration is the highest in four of the five counties within Senatorial District 27, and second highest in the fifth.
For example, out of 173,086 registered voters in Cameron, 21.40 percent are between the ages of 19 to 29, followed closely by 19.90 percent for 30 to 39 year olds.
In Hidalgo, out of 301,237 voters, 22.39 percent are between 19 and 29, and 21.56 percent are 30 to 39 years old. The same holds true for Kenedy with 356 voters of whom 24.16 percent are under 30 and Kleberg with 18,706 voters of whom 24.53 percent are in the same age bracket.
Only Willacy has more voters age 65 and over comprising the largest group by 20.59 percent, followed by 19.71 percent for those between 19 and 29, still the second highest group. The next three age categories fall in a range of about 17 percent.
It's true that younger voters are often busy with school, raising families and managing new jobs, but their involvement in these elections will help shape the future of South Texas for themselves and their children.
There are two ways to vote early. People can vote in person at various locations convenient to their political subdivisions.
For those who have difficulty walking or standing for long periods but can drive or be driven to the polls, a call in advance to notify the early voting clerk of the situation affords them the privilege of "curbside voting." State and federal law requires all early and Election Day polling locations to be physically accessible to voters with disabilities.
The other form of voting is by mail. People may vote early by mail if they are going to be away from their county on Election Day and during early voting. Also, those sick or disabled, 65 years of age or older on Election Day, or confined in jail, but eligible to vote, can mail in their ballots.
Applications for a mail-in ballot must be received by the Early Voting Clerk in the voter's home county by October 28. The early voting clerk must receive the marked ballot by 7 p.m. on Election Day unless it is mailed from outside the United States.
Secretary of State Andrade plans to visit with election officials in our area between now and the end of October to offer assistance and address any concerns particular to South Texas. Her goal is to ensure that every county and every voter has access to the necessary information that will streamline voting and enhance accuracy.
This additional communication between Ms. Andrade and our election officials will enable them to be even better prepared to assist.
For more information, people may contact their county clerk, county elections administrator or their voter registrar in their counties. They may also log onto the Secretary of State's web site at www.sos.state.tx.us/elections/voter/earlyvoting.shtml or call 1-800-252-VOTE (8683) toll-free for either English or Spanish. Anyone with concerns can call the SOS legal staff toll-free at 1-800-252.VOTE (8683) for advice on voters' rights.
While easier access to voting is a privilege, the act of voting is a guaranteed right for all eligible Americans.
Instead of making excuses for not voting, let's take advantage of today's convenience provided by early voting. Ms. Andrade and I encourage every registered South Texan to take time and cast either an early ballot or vote on Nov. 4.
As always, if you have any input or questions regarding these or other matters, please do not hesitate to contact Doris Sanchez, my press secretary, 512-463-0385.