Texas counties limited to one ballot drop-off location, again
AUSTIN, Texas - Counties in Texas are limited to only having one ballot drop-off location open again. Today, the 5th Circuit Court announced that they are reversing an order from a federal judge while they consider an injunction that was filed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed an emergency motion for stay pending appeal earlier today. This was done in response to a federal judge's decision to block an order from Texas Governor Greg Abbott that would reduce the number of mail-in ballot drop-off locations to one per county.
On Thursday, October 1, Governor Abbott issued a proclamation that his office said will enhance ballot security protocols for the in-person delivery of marked mail ballots for the November 3 election.
Under the proclamation, mail ballots that are delivered in person by voters who are eligible to vote by mail must be delivered to a single early voting clerk’s office location as publicly designated by a county’s early voting clerk.
“The district court’s order undermines our election security, disrupts the democratic process, and will only lead to voter confusion. It cannot stand,” said Attorney General Paxton. “Mail-in ballots are particularly vulnerable to fraud. Protections that ensure their security must be upheld and my office will continue to fight for safe, free, and fair elections.”
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Democrats and voting rights groups have accused the Republican governor of voter suppression, arguing the order most directly affected the state’s largest cities, which are Democratic strongholds.
Harris County, where Houston is located, has a population of 5 million and is 1,777 square miles. Before the directive, it had 11 ballot drop sites. In a previous filing, the Harris County clerk warned that the lone drop-off site "could be more than fifty miles away" for some voters.
Abbott said the move was designed to "strengthen voting safety in Texas."
Texas is one of five states not allowing widespread mail-in voting amid the coronavirus pandemic. In order to be eligible for mail voting, Texas residents must be 65 or older, disabled, out of the county on Election Day and the early voting period or in jail but otherwise eligible.
The deadline to request a ballot in Texas is Oct. 23 and mail-in ballots must be postmarked by Nov. 3 and received by 5 p.m. Nov. 4.
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Read AG Paxton's emergency motion for stay pending appeal: