McALLEN — A free concert will be taking place this weekend, and the only requirement for entry is voter registration.
An Austin-based advocacy group, Austin Texas Musicians, has partnered with Arching Dog Productions for Músicos Unidos Para Votar, a series of free concerts in border communities to encourage people to register to vote.
In McAllen, the concert will be held at Cine El Rey on Sunday and will feature RayBurger, an EDM Cumbia artist from Dallas; Veronique Medrano, a Tejano artist from Brownsville; and Sonja De La Paz, a Tejano singer from Laredo.
“In 2020, we registered about 700 new voters here in Travis County,” said Patrick Buchta, founding vice president and executive director of Austin Texas Musicians. “But in Travis County, we’re something like 97% registered. So we really wanted to look around the state this year and see where we can make the most impact, and through that research, we found that El Paso, Laredo and the Rio Grande Valley were where we have some of our lowest voter registration so we set out to do something about that.”
At the event, they will have a team of volunteer deputy registrars who will be able to quickly look up a person’s voter registration status. If people are not registered, they will also have forms on hand to help them complete the voter registration process.
“Also we want to stress that Mexican nationals, our neighbors to the south, get in free,” Buchta said. “We don’t need anything from them, we just want to build community and make everybody feel welcome.”
Other, local organizations, are also expected to make an appearance at the event including Planned Parenthood, the Intersectional Feminist Student Organization at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, and Kappa Delta Chi, a Latina founded sorority.
Austin Texas Musicians is a non-partisan organization that does not side with candidates. However, they do side with causes that affect musicians.
“The causes that affect our musicians that we serve the most are causes that are, to be quite honest, are sort of at-risk and at play in Texas right now from women’s reproductive rights to gun safety to all these things,” Buchta said. “We just want to make sure that our musicians that we serve are safe and healthy and happy so that they can continue to do the work that they do.”
The main goal with these concerts, though, is to persuade more people — whether they’re Democrats or Republicans — to register to vote and to tune into local policies that are affected by local elections.
“We also want to help dispel some of the myths and the fears around voting because we’ve talked to a lot of folks in these border regions and I think one of the things we heard the most is that, number one, our vote doesn’t count, doesn’t matter,” Buchta said. “We have real evidence now that that’s just not the case. Every vote counts.”
He added there is also a lot of fear surrounding actually going to the polls and voter intimidation.
“We just want to reassure everyone that there are protections around showing up and voting because that is your right as an American,” he said.
The event is scheduled from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday at Cine El Rey.