Elections 2020Local NewsHidalgo County Keeps Polls Open an Extra Hour, Potentially Violating Election Law

Hidalgo County's decision to lengthen voting time — a last-minute action potentially taken without the county judge — may violate the law.
November 3, 2020
https://thetexan.news/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/Austin-Early-Voting-19-1280x853.jpg

Polls will close at 8 p.m. in Hidalgo County today, extending their hours of operation.

Technical difficulties at 10 polling locations “prevented the check-in of voters in a timely manner,” according to a release by the Hidalgo County Elections Department. The department will lengthen the voting day for all 74 polling locations.

The decision may violate state election law at the eleventh hour. Texas Election Code mandates the closing of polls at 7 p.m.

“Except as provided by Section 41.033, the polls shall be opened at 7 a.m. for voting and shall be closed at 7 p.m.,” the law reads.

Section 41.033 allows polls to close early in the event of total voter turnout or if there are fewer than 50 qualified voters in the municipality. Election code also allows voters to vote after 7 p.m. if they are inside or waiting to enter the polling place by then.

“Making sure our voters have the opportunity to cast their ballot is our utmost priority,” Elections Administrator Yvonne Ramon said in the release. “Extending the closure of the polls to 8 p.m. will provide that opportunity to the voters of Hidalgo County.”

Though such an extension would fall under the purview of the county judge, if legal at all, the announcement comes abruptly via Twitter and does not name Hidalgo County Judge Richard Cortez as an authority.

Disclosure: Unlike almost every other media outlet, The Texan is not beholden to any special interests, does not apply for any type of state or federal funding, and relies exclusively on its readers for financial support. If you’d like to become one of the people we’re financially accountable to, click here to subscribe.

Get “KB's Hot Take”

A free bi-weekly commentary on current events by Konni Burton.

Isaiah Mitchell

Isaiah Mitchell

Isaiah Mitchell is a reporter for The Texan, a Texas native, and a huge Allman Brothers fan. He graduated cum laude from Trinity University in 2020 with a degree in English. Isaiah loves playing music and football with his family.