Cameron County official says pre-filled sample ballots are legal

Voters in Cameron County are using pom-poms, pins, music and singing to attract supporters for their preferred candidates.

Some say all promoting strategies are fair game - even passing out sample ballots with their candidate's name filed in to use as notes inside the polling location.

Cameron County Elections Administrator Roger Ortiz said, it's perfectly legal for candidates to attempt to guide voters with these pre-filled sample ballots.

"Voters can bring in - for their own personal use - their own little notes without passing it around, and without promoting a candidate, Ortiz said. But for their personal use, they can use it at the polling locations."

Israel Tapia, Jr., candidate for Justice of the Peace Pct. 2, said that along with giant campaign signs, push cards and neighborhood walks, pre-filled out sample ballots are commonly used to campaign.

"Yes I did (use this method), Tapia said, and the people I TMve been giving (them) to, they've been well received."

However, what is illegal, Ortiz said, is promoting a candidate inside the polls.

He confirmed there was a complaint about a supporter pushing for their candidate on Monday, inside the Cameron County Annex building in Harlingen.

Ortiz said the man was asked to leave the polling location.

He adds that there is a presiding judge or supervisor at each voting location to ensure that these things do not happen or that they are addressed appropriately.

Other areas of concern with voters, Ortiz said, are mail-in ballots.

"It happens at a person's own home, apartment, nursing home, Ortiz said, and as far as we are concerned, there's no way we could police it at this time."

Ortiz said changing the way mail-in ballots works, would not only cost money but would have to be something that comes from the state.

Also illegal, Ortiz said, is offering money for people TMs votes. Complaints of this nature need to be filed with the Cameron County District Attorney TMs office or the State, he adds.