RIO GRANDE VALLEY (ValleyCentral) — Election day is May 7 across the Rio Grande Valley and thousands of voters turned out for early voting.

Election officials from Cameron and Hidalgo County said the early voting numbers increased during this election.

“We had a very early voting this season, we were surprised by the number of people who turned out,” said Cameron County elections administrator, Remi Garza.

He explained that with a few things on the ballot such as the Harlingen mayoral race, the voter turnout is higher.

“This is the first time we’ve run the city of Harlingen’s elections in a long time but comparing it to 2019, they had approximately 1500 people participate in the early part of the election. They had over 3,900 this time around in the city-wide race,” he said.

Garza said the numbers are for in-person voting, but added that close to 1,500 mail-in ballots were returned, county-wide.

One item on the ballot is the proposition for the Cameron County Arena, which is on the ballot for a second time after not getting approved in November of last year.

“During the November elections it had approximately 3,500 people come to vote early and we exceeded 11,400 this time around. So, it’s great that the community is getting engaged. It’s either candidates or the proposition that’s bringing them,” he said.

Hilda Salinas, the assistant director for the Hidalgo County election department said they have seen an increase from last year’s May election early voting turnout.

“We did have a total of 14,958 of voters cast their ballots through early voting,” said Salinas.

Last year’s early voting was at almost 9,000, according to Salinas.

“It’s kind of hard to compare because this election we do have the constitutional, so it does seem as though the constitutional is also driving this election along with the local entities election that we have going on,” she said.

The Mission mayoral race is one that has been highly talked about and she said polling places in Mission have seen about 7,000 early voters.

Both Cameron and Hidalgo election officials encourage voters to view the sample ballots on their websites to become familiar with the candidates and propositions on the ballot.