The Texas governor ordered voters to drop their ballots by mail at only one location per county in the run-up to the presidential election.
Republican Governor Greg Abbott said the move would stop the illegal voting.
Critics accused Mr. Abbott of suppressing the electorate, noting that in some cases, thousands of voters must go to a single clerk’s office.
Weeks before the election, counties are required to close down any satellite polling sites.
Texas is the second most populous US state and it will be a big win for the candidates during the November 3 election. The country has been reliably republic in modern presidential contests.
This time, many voters are expected to vote by mail or drop their ballots due to the pandemic.
Mail-order protocols vary slightly from state to state, but in Texas, eligible first voters can start dropping their ballot papers this month.
Some of the state’s largest counties have already set up multiple delivery locations. Harris County, home to Houston and nearly four million people, must shut down 11 delivery sites, Reported by the Houston Chronicle.
In addition to raising questions about how millions of urban residents from Texas would need to visit a single delivery site, the move could also be problematic for rural residents, who are spread across the state – also the second largest in America.
The order will take effect on Friday.
In a statement following the order on Thursday, Abbott referred to Covid-19 in calling for strengthening polling security protocols.
“These enhanced security protocols will ensure greater transparency and help stop attempts at illegal voting.”
Numerous state and statewide studies over the years have revealed that there is no evidence of significant and widespread fraud in postal voting.
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Gilberto Hinojosa, Democratic Party chairperson from Texas, responded to the announcement accusing “fearful” Republicans of trying to change the rules while “about to lose.”
Hinojosa added that courts across the United States said it was too late to make changes to the election rules, “but our failed republican leadership will try anyway.”
Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins said in a statement that Abbott’s announcement would cause “widespread confusion and voter suppression.” Harris County, which includes Houston, is the most populous county in the state.
“Multiple landing sites have been announced for weeks,” he said. “Forcing hundreds of thousands of elderly and voters with disabilities to use one site … is harmful and dangerous.”
Abbott’s order also states that voting officials must allow polling observers to be present at the handover site.
Poll monitors are individuals who can monitor any election law violations at the polling site and during the counting process. They cannot intimidate or talk to voters.
President Donald Trump urged his supporters to become observers of the poll while he pointed to the possibility of rigging the elections.
It’s hard to understand the exact size of Texas. There are counties in the west the size of the small states of America. The Dallas-Fort Worth area has a population of over a dozen European countries. It has an economy roughly the size of Russia’s.
Texas also has the lowest electoral turnout in the country, with only 46.5% of voting-age residents casting their vote in 2016.
These numbers will not be improved by Governor Abbott’s decision to authorize only one polling site per county throughout the state. It will be a burden in densely populated areas like Houston, where traffic and density make travel slow, and out west, where the vast open spaces make it arduous.
The state has a strong early voting system, but with concerns about in-person polling during the Covid-19 pandemic, vulnerable Texas may prefer to limit exposure.
Those on the left will see Abbott’s decision, along with other Republican efforts to curb absentee voting – particularly in urban areas where the Democrats are headed – as an attempt to prevent their party from winning the main statewide election or, perhaps, even voting for a candidate. Presidential Democrat for the first time since 1976.
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