One in five people who cast early ballots in Hidalgo’s City Council election brought someone else into the voting booth for help, Hidalgo County Elections Administrator Yvonne Ramon said Thursday. While Texas law allows voters to seek assistance in special circumstances, unusually high assistance rates often indicate political machines — and, critics say, voter coercion — at work. Of the 2,144 people who voted early in the Hidalgo election, 483 had help, Ramon said, about 22.5 percent of voters. “I think a majority of the people who are being assisted are school employees at Hidalgo ISD and Valley View ISD,” said Mayor John David Franz, who said he’d heard disturbing reports of able-bodied teachers asking for assistance. Members of the city’s longtime political machine, the Concerned Citizens of Hidalgo, attempt to intimidate voters by asking if they need assistance, Mayor Franz said. Anyone who refuses is “sending the signal you’re not on the team.” High rates of assisted voting and questions about the influence of political machines at the ballot box aren’t unusual in Hidalgo County.