Early voting begins Feb. 19

Mauricio Julian Cuellar Jr., Alice Echo-News Journal

For those Jim Wells County residents who have yet to register to vote for the March Primary, there's still time. The last day to register to vote is Monday.

Elections Administrator Pearlie Jo Valadez said Friday there are currently 26,000 registered voters in JWC, which is about average during election time.

"This has been the average for a couple of years now," Valadez said.

The numbers are consistent, she said because of the amount of people who are placed in suspense, and the number of new people coming into the process.

Voters in suspense are those found to have an incorrect address and voter registration cards are returned.

A resident in suspense has two election cycles to correct the problem with the elections office. After that point, if their address hasn't been updated, the state will cancel their registration because of a lack of a correct address.

While losing some voters to suspense, the county also gains young voters, since local high schools make a great effort to spread the word about the importance of registering to vote, Valadez said.

Her office expects to see a good turnout this year, since there are a large number of important races. But since it is her first full election as administrator, she doesn't want to speculate on the number of voters turning out. Valadez's first election as administrator was last year's Constitutional Amendment Election.

"The races coming up, and the energy around the county, you can tell that this election will be at least as big as those in the past," Valadez said. "Primaries bring the people out to vote."

Residents can fill out registration forms at the Elections Administrator's office on the first floor of the courthouse, and the office will accept registration forms postmarked by Feb. 4.

Early voting in person will be from Feb. 19 to 29. Valadez said her office has sent out 600 mail-in ballot request applications so far, and several requests have come in. Her office has not yet received the mail-in ballots for the election. They are expected to arrive in the next week.

The Elections Administrator's Office will continue accepting requests for mail-in ballots until Feb. 26. As soon as the ballots come in, they will be mailed to those voters who requested them.

The Primary is March 4, and that will also be the last day the office will accept mail-in ballots, which must arrive to the post office on March 4, to be considered.