Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued a proclamation Thursday limiting the amount of drop-off locations for mail-in ballots to one site per county.
The move significantly affects the Democratic stronghold of Harris County, which is the state’s largest county by population — one of the most populous in the country — and covers a massive area. It must now reduce its 11 drop-off locations down to one starting on Friday. Travis County, which includes the reliably Democratic city of Austin, must limit its four drop-off locations to one.
Other large counties — like Tarrant, Dallas and El Paso County — only had one drop-off location already in place.
The Republican governor said in a statement the order was made to enhance ballot security. It also allows poll watchers to observe the in-person delivery of mail-in ballots by voters, but critics say it could severely limit access for many voters.
The decision has already drawn fire from Texas Democrats. The state’s Democratic party chair, Gilberto Hinojosa, labeled it a “blatant voter suppression tactic” in a press release. The group Let America Vote also blasted the move.
“The governor is making it harder for people to vote in the middle of a global pandemic that has claimed the lives of over 16,000 Texans,” the group said in a statement. “It is a shameful, blatant act of voter suppression that will disproportionately impact the large number of Black and Latinx voters in Texas’ biggest counties.”
Former Democratic presidential candidate and Texas native Julian Castro similarly cast Abbott’s proclamation as an effort to make voting “harder for fellow Texans.”
The Republican governor, he tweeted, “knows how angry Texans are with Trump’s failure, (Republican Sen. John) Cornyn’s failure and his own to keep Texans safe and our people working.”
UPDATE OCT 9th, 2020 – Federal Judge blocks Governor’s attempt to reduce drop boxes in the state of Texas. READ STORY