• March 12, 2024

Decreased voter turnout across the Valley

Decreased voter turnout across the Valley

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas — The primary elections determined the contenders for the upcoming general election in November, while those who will compete in a run-off in May were also decided.

Compared to four years ago, when the last Presidential primary took place, voter turnout was lower across all Rio Grande Valley counties. Turnout for primary elections is traditionally modest, averaging 17% for Valley counties over the last three election cycles.

On Super Tuesday, Willacy County boasted the highest participation rate at 19.7%, whereas only 6.6% of Starr County voters turned out.

Robert Velez, a political science lecturer at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, explained that low turnout was expected for primary elections, given their nature.

While it’s unsurprising that fewer voters participated, there was a notable shift in party participation rates. Democratic turnout fell below 2020 levels, while Republican participation nearly doubled compared to four years ago, according to Remi Garza, Cameron County Elections Administrator.

Political science experts speculated that lack of enthusiasm for top-ticket candidates may have contributed to the turnout dynamics.

Despite Republicans casting more ballots, Velez cautioned against extrapolating these numbers to the general election, emphasizing that each election cycle brings unique candidates and circumstances.

Furthermore, recent redistricting, including changes to District 34 and District 15 since the 2020 presidential election, may influence outcomes in key races.

Garza noted a lower-than-anticipated turnout in his office but highlighted a consistent trend: voters increasingly prefer early voting, which has risen from 45% to around 65%.

While primary turnout was subdued, Garza expects heightened participation in the general election. However, he reminded voters that official numbers are pending, with Cameron County scheduled to re-canvass votes to include absentee, overseas, and provisional ballots on Tuesday, March 12.

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