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.
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