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      Hidalgo County on pace to shatter early voting records

      Hidalgo County is on pace to break early voting records established during the last presidential election, according to the elections administrator. Yvonne Ramon said turnout during the first day of early voting exceeded the record-breaking numbers from 2008 by about 50 percent. If the trend continues, she added, voter turnout will shatter the 2008 numbers. According to the unofficial numbers from the Hidalgo County Elections Office, on Monday the number of early votes totaled 13,832, approximately 4300 more than four years ago. The trend continued into the second day as numbers for Tuesday dipped slightly to 11,523 ballots cast. The unofficial numbers show some of the busiest precincts in the first two days of early voting are in areas with heated local elections. As an example, Edinburg, which has competitive school district and state races, has had the busiest precinct. In two days, 2226 people voted at the Elections Annex Building on Closner Avenue, that is nearly 1 out of every 10 votes in the entire county submitted so far. Ramon said those local races are one of the major reasons for the higher turnout this year. "We've got 15 additional elections on the ballot that contracted us to run their elections," she said. "This had never happened in a November general election." "Maybe four or five would contract us, but maybe 10 or more would be out there, they would contract to lease the equipment but they would run their own election," Ramon added. She also credited the increased cooperation and push to target voters from community groups, such as the Advance Alliance of Central Texas or AACT NOW. Another factor, she added is the ease and convenience from having two mobile voting units, which will travel to different, high-traffic locations throughout the county up until the end of early voting on November 2. Unofficial numbers from Tuesday showed 863 people voted at a mobile voting unit stationed at Doctor's Hospital at Renaissance, making it the second busiest location for the entire day.Information on the unofficial voting numbers, as well as early voting times and locations, can be found here.