The Texas governor has ordered voters to cast their mail-in ballots at only one location in each county before the presidential election.
Republican Gov. Greg Abbott said the move would end illegal voting.
Critics have accused Abbott of voter repression, pointing out that in some cases it means thousands of voters should go to a clerk’s office.
Arriving weeks before the election, the order requires counties to close any satellite belt drop-off locations.
Texas is the second most populous state in the United States and will be a major victory for candidates in the November 3 election. The state has been a reliable Republican in modern presidential contests.
Many more voters in the area are expected to vote by post this time around because of the epidemic.
Mail-in voting protocols vary by state, but in Texas, eligible early voters can begin casting their ballots this month.
Some large counties in the state have already set up multiple drop-off sites. Harris County, the city of Houston and home to nearly 4 million residents, should now close 11 drop-off locations. Reported by the Houston Chronicle.
While raising questions about how millions of urban taxis will need to visit a single drop-off site, the move could also be difficult for rural residents, who are spread across the state – depending on the region. Is also the second largest country in the United States.
The order takes effect on Friday.
In a statement after the order on Thursday, S. Mr Abbott called for strengthening the belt-protection protocol.
“This improved security protocol will ensure greater transparency and help prevent attempts at illegal voting.”
Numerous nationwide and state-level studies over the years have shown no evidence of large-scale, widespread fraud in postal voting.
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Gilberto Hinjosa, chairman of the Texas Democratic Party, responded to the announcement by accusing “scary” Republicans of trying to change the rules.
“Courts across the United States have said it’s too late to change the rules, but our failed Republican leadership will try,” he said.
Mr Abbott’s announcement would cause “widespread confusion and voter pressure”, Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins said in a statement. Harris County, which surrounds Houston, is the most populous county in the state.
“Many drop-off locations have been advertised for weeks,” he said. “Forcing hundreds of thousands of elderly and disabled people to use the same drop-off space … is biased and dangerous.”
Mr Abbott’s order also said voting authorities should allow poll observers to be present at the drop-off site.
Poll monitors are people who can monitor polling stations and the election process for violations of the election law. They cannot intimidate voters or talk to them.
President Donald Trump has called on his supporters to be election observers, suggesting that the election could be rigged.
It’s hard to imagine exactly how big the state of Texas is. To the west are counties as small as the U.S. states. The Dallas-Fort Worth area has a larger population than a dozen European countries. This is Russia’s economy.
Texas also had the lowest turnout in the country, with only 46.5% of the voting-age population voting in 2016.
These figures are not improving with Governor Abbott’s decision to make it mandatory to have only one ballot box per county in the state. This will be a burden in populated areas like Houston, where traffic and density slow down travel, and outside the west, where large open spaces make it difficult.
The state has a strong early voting system, but with concerns about individual voting during the Covid-19 epidemic, Texas may prefer to limit exposure to the risk.
People on the left will see Mr Abbott’s decision, along with other Republican efforts to limit absentee voting – especially in urban areas that are pro-democracy – to prevent his party from winning the state’s main election. As an attempt, or perhaps to vote. Democratic presidential candidate for the first time since 1976.
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