World Texas Governor Announces Counties Can Only Have One Ballot Drop-Off Location, Forcing Harris County, Other Large Dem Counties to Remove Drop Boxes
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Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued a proclamation on Thursday that counties in the state are only allowed to have one drop-off location for mail-in ballots.
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Mail ballots delivered in person must be dropped off to "a single early voting clerk's office location as publicly designated by the county's early voting clerk" and all other drop-off or satellite locations will be closed as of Friday.
The proclamation also requires early voting clerks to let poll watchers observe ballot delivery as an election security measure.
"As we work to preserve Texans' ability to vote during the COVID-19 pandemic, we must take extra care to strengthen ballot security protocols throughout the state," Abbott said. "These enhanced security protocols will ensure greater transparency and will help stop attempts at illegal voting."
The announcement means large Democratic counties in Texas—including Harris County and Travis County—that added sites to increase voter convenience will have to remove additional drop boxes. Harris County currently has 12 and Travis County has four.
Texas GOP Sues Republican Gov. Over Extending Early Voting Period By 6 Days
Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott's order to extend early voting by less than a week would cause "harm" and has "the ability to impact local, state and national elections," according to a lawsuit filed Wednesday by the Texas GOP and multiple individual Republicans.Abbott was sued Wednesday by Republican Party of Texas and its chairman Allen West, Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, multiple Texas legislators and several other prominent Republicans in the state for deciding to allow voters to begin casting ballots on October 13 instead of October 19, the date dictated by Texas Election Code.
The move could make it more difficult for voters in these larger counties to cast their ballots ahead of Election Day.
The Texas Democratic Party called the proclamation a "blatant voter suppression tactic."
"Republicans are on the verge of losing, so Governor Abbott is trying to adjust the rules last minute," party chair Gilberto Hinojosa said in a statement.
"Courts all over the country, including the Fifth Circuit yesterday, have held that it is too late to change election rules, but our failed Republican leadership will try anyway. Make no mistake, Democracy itself is on the ballot. Every Texan must get out and vote these cowards out!" Hinojosa added.
This is the latest amendment to the state's early voting laws.
Last week, six GOP state lawmakers and Texas Republican Party Chair Allen West filed a lawsuit against Abbott in an attempt to strike down the state's extended early voting.
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In response to the coronavirus pandemic, Abbott added six days to the early voting period back in July, moving the start date up to October 13 for voters casting a mail-in ballot. The governor had also extended early voting for the July primary runoffs.
The plaintiffs argued that Abbott is defying an election law that requires early voting to start on the 17th day before the election.
This is not the first time Abbott has faced backlash from Texas Republicans over his handling of the outbreak. Many criticized the governor's orders as being unlawful after he issued a statewide mask mandate and reversed the state's reopening plan due to a surge in COVID-19 cases during the summer.
Newsweek reached out to Abbott for comment, but did not hear back before publication.
Texas Dems Declare ‘Big War’ on Gov Over Mail-In Vote Restriction .
HOUSTON - Texas Democrats are planning to take Gov. Greg Abbott (R-TX) to federal court over his controversial move on Thursday to shutter locations across the state where voters can drop off their mail-in ballots to be counted for the general election. “We’re in a big war right now with the state of Texas,” Gilberto Hinojosa, the chairman of the Texas Democratic Party, told The Daily Beast. “We’re probably going to be filing suit on that in the next day or so.” Abbott announced Thursday that effective immediately until the Nov. 3 election, each county in Texas can only operate one site where voters are allowed to submit their mail-in ballots.