October 23, 2018

Castro Remarks on Early Voting Issues in Bexar County

– As Delivered –

SAN ANTONIO—Congressman Joaquin Castro (TX-20), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and First Vice Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, today made the following remarks at a press conference with Texas State Senator José Menéndez (District 26) outside early voting site Las Palmas Library to shed light on early voting issues in Bexar County:

“I represent District 20 in the United States House of Representatives, and I am honored to be joined by my former colleague in the State Legislature José Menéndez, who is a State Senator for District 26 in Bexar County.

“We’re excited that today is the first day of early voting in Texas, and we’re expecting a historic turnout. And we have already started to see a lot of people come out to vote in Bexar County. And that’s something that should be very encouraging to everybody who cares about the strength of our democracy.

“But democracy only works if people have the opportunity to actually go and vote, and to cast their vote, to show their political preference. And so far in Bexar County, this election has been run not very smoothly.

“I was here at Las Palmas earlier today, and although there was a long line, there was only one person who was able to work a computer to check everybody in. Usually, there are more computers to check folks in.

“There was also from what we understand for several hours a system glitch where the labels that are printed to be put on, to record who has come to vote, could not be printed. Forcing the worker to then write by hand each person’s information to record that they showed up to vote. So that, as you can imagine, also slowed down the line.

“By all accounts, of both poll workers here, of campaign workers, and also others, that slowed down the process. And many people who showed up to vote left because they had to get back to work. Or they came here very early in the morning, they had to run off to work.

“And so, you know if this was a one-time occurrence that was just happening at Las Palmas—we’ve heard other reports of understaffing at Bexar County today—if it was just a one-time thing, or a one-day thing, that would be one thing. But as I stated earlier, this has been a recurrence. A constant thing in Bexar County elections for several cycles now, and it needs to stop.

“We’re calling on the Commissioners Court and the County Elections office to make sure that they do right by the people of Bexar County and fully staff each of the early voting sites and dedicate the resources necessary to make sure that people—Republican or Democrat or Libertarian or anything else—can fully express their political preference.

“This is not a partisan issue. In fact, the county is controlled by Democrats. Not Republicans. And so, before we invest in another study on a soccer team or a football team, or landing a baseball team, we need to make sure that we invest in updating our voting machines.

“The San Antonio Express-News reported yesterday that Bexar County uses what are considered some of the nations most outdated electronic voting machines that leave absolutely no paper trial. These kinds of machines have been banned in many other states across the United States. Yet, the people of Bexar County are still made to vote on these machines.

“And so with that, I’m going to turn it over to José Menéndez for some more remarks and then we’ll be glad to take questions.”

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