McAllen special election

Something strange: Mail-in ballot apps soar

McALLEN – Something very strange is afoot in McAllen’s District 1 runoff election – the number of requests for mail-in/absentee ballot forms is way out of kilter. As of Tuesday morning, the city secretary’s office had received 123 requests for them vs. only 1 such request in the Jan. 20 regular election.

Of the 123 requests for a mail-in/absentee ballot received by the office of McAllen’s city secretary as of Tuesday (Feb. 19) morning, 27 had already been returned.

So far, as of Tuesday morning, 245 people have voted in the special election since the early voting process began last Wednesday, Feb. 14. Early voting extends through Feb. 27. Election day is Saturday, March 3.

The Jan. 20 race included three candidates: Javier Villalobos, who got the most votes, 351; Tim Wilkins, who got 269; and Joseph Caporusso, who garnered 210. No candidate got the requisite 50 percent plus 1, which forced a run-off between Villalobos and Wilkins.

McAllen’s District 1 opened up after the incumbent commissioner, Richard Cortez, announced his candidacy for county judge. Cortez will face Eloy Pulido in the Democratic Party’s March primary.

When asked if he had any explanation for the strange increase in requests for mail-in/absentee ballots, Villalobos said his campaign isn’t working to get registered voters to request them.

Not at all,” he said. “Actually, it’s an anomaly for a McAllen election to have that many, especially in a special election with only a single district on the ballot. I had a supporter go to vote (Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018) and they wouldn’t let him because he was told that voter records showed that he had requested a mail-in ballot, when in fact, he told me, that he had not requested one.”

Wilkins texted, “We scrutinized all voting lists and trends we could get our hands on, and undertook significant efforts to increase voter turnout. I am hopeful a majority of those are for me. I can assure you not a single illegal thing was done. If they aren’t for me, the fix is in.”

According to the city secretary’s office, if a voter shows up to vote and is told that he or she can’t vote because election records show that they have requested a mail-in/absentee ballot, they can still vote as long as they surrender their mail-in ballot.

If they never requested one, however, therein lies the problem. What to do then will require a call to the city secretary’s office: 681-1000. The request for a mail-in/absentee ballot can then be cancelled. If someone applied for one in your name without you knowing it, however, chances are you’re not going to be happy.

To be eligible to vote by mail in Texas, you must: be 65 years or older; be disabled; be out of the county on election day and during the early voting period; or, be confined in jail, but otherwise eligible (may sound oxymoronic, but if you sober up and get bonded out on the DWI, you can still vote).

So what’s the story behind this huge surge in requests for mail-in/absentee ballots during this run-off election for McAllen’s District 1? Neither Villalobos or Wilkins say they can explain it, and neither candidate says they are using politiqueras during the run-off.

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