Valadez says her office is ready for voters

Mauricio Julian Cuellar Jr., Alice Echo-News Journal

With less than one month until the early election on constitutional amendments, Elections Administrator Pearlie Jo Valadez said all county machines are in working order, the ballots are ready for the voters and her office is busily preparing for the influx of visitors.

She is confident the inaugural election in the new Elections Administration office will run smoothly.

"Everything to conduct the election is here, we are just awaiting the time," Valadez said. "We're actually looking forward to it with mixed emotions. It's a little frightening, with a little skepticism, but also with a lot of confidence."

Valadez has received a lot of help from both the JWC Clerk's office and the elections vendors, since this is her first time in the lead position.

She said an amendment electron usually doesn't create as much enthusiasm as the Primaries do, but she's hoping that people will still come out in November because of the important amendments on the ballot this year.

"There will be some amendments that pertain to real property, taxes, disabled veterans, highway improvements and others. Items that will hit us in the pocketbook," Valadez said. "It's important and people need to get out and get involved and be informed.

"So many people take voting for granted. We have soldiers fighting overseas to bring democracy to other nations, and we have democracy here at home, and many of us are not exercising it. If you're complacent about voting, it's your fault. Every vote is important, and one vote can make a difference."

Information on the proposed amendments is available at the Elections Administrator's office for viewing by the public in both English and Spanish.

Valadez encourages all voters to come by and be informed. Information on ballot amendments can also be found at the secretary of state's Web site at www.sos.state.tx.us.

Also, for those voters who have moved in the last year, it is important to update your current address with the Elections Administrators office before the election.

Valadez said there are currently 2,000 voters in JWC who are considered in suspense because they haven't taken the time to notify the office of their new address.

Valadez said she hopes to lower that number significantly, with the assistance of the public, between now and the election.

At the moment, the walls are still white and the voting room empty, but there is plenty of room in the new offices, located on the first floor of the courthouse.

The booths will be set up on one side of the office to allow traffic to flow from the courthouse hallway from the voting area and out the second door of the office.

Valadez estimates that five voters will be able to utilize the room at one time. She said extra benches will be set up in the courthouse for voters during the election, and there will be extra help on hand to assist with elderly voters and the disabled.

Valadez said for the convenience of the voters, her office will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and through the lunch hour during the election, to allow those voters who work during the day an opportunity to come by during their lunch hour and participate in the election.

Amendment elections notoriously have low voter turnout across the state of Texas, but Valadez hopes the voters of JWC will surprise her and the turnout will be larger than expected.