41.8 F
Fort Worth
Wednesday, October 28, 2020
News Groups sue Texas governor to block limits on ballot drops

Groups sue Texas governor to block limits on ballot drops

Other News

Court reinstates Texas limit on ballot drop-off locations

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A federal appeals court has reinstated a limit on the number of mail-in ballot drop-off locations in Texas,...

Gov. Greg Abbott loosens coronavirus restrictions for restaurants and other businesses in most regions of Texas

By Patrick Svitek Gov. Greg Abbott announced Thursday that most of Texas will be  able to loosen some coronavirus...

Texas governor renews virus disaster declaration

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has extended the state's disaster declaration in response to the coronavirus pandemic as the...

‘We really dodged a bullet,’ Beaumont official says, as Hurricane Laura downgraded to Category 1

By Cassandra Pollock and Julián Aguilar Hurricane Laura was downgraded to a Category 1 storm as it moved away...

By ACACIA CORONADO Report for America/Associated Press

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Civil rights and voter advocacy groups have filed a federal lawsuit seeking to block an order by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott that dramatically reduced the number of drop-off locations for mail ballots.

The lawsuit filed late Thursday could be the first of many legal challenges against Abbott’s order that assigns just one drop-off location in each of Texas’ 254 counties and allows poll watchers to observe ballot deliveries. The order, which took effect  Friday, shutters dozens of sites statewide, including in Texas’ largest cities and Democratic strongholds.

The Republican governor said the order is needed to ensure election security — echoing calls from President Donald Trump for his supporters to keep close watch on mail-in voting, but Democrats blasted it as blatant voter suppression.

The lawsuit filed in Austin names Abbott, Texas Secretary of State Ruth Hughs and election administrators in Harris, Fort Bend, Travis and El Paso counties. It was filed by the Texas League of United Latin American Citizens; the National League of United Latin American Citizens; the League of Women Voters of Texas; and two voters.

Abbott’s order would eliminate 11 drop-off locations in Harris County, which includes the nation’s fourth largest city, Houston.

Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins, who is named in the lawsuit, said during a news conference Friday that Abbott’s move would force elderly and disabled people to drive long distances and wait in long lines to cast their ballot. He said he, too, would fight Abbott’s order.

“It’s something he should strongly reconsider and if he doesn’t reconsider himself he is going to hear about it in the courts,” Hollins said of Abbott.

Hollins is also named in a lawsuit from Abbott calling for the Harris County Clerk’s Office to stop plans to send mail ballot applications to the county’s more than 2 million registered voters.

Abbott’s staff said he was not limiting voting, pointing out that he has increased the period during which voters can submit their mail-in ballots in person to include anytime up to Election Day.

“The additional time provided for those who want to submit their mail-in ballot in person is sufficient to accommodate the limited number of people who have traditionally used that voting strategy,” the governor’s office said in a statement.

Prominent members of the state Republican Party sued Abbott in September  seeking to halt a one-week extension of early voting.

Voters have already begun returning ballots for the November presidential election. Texas is one of just five states not allowing widespread mail-in voting this year. To qualify for a mail-in ballot, Texas voters must be: away from their county of residence on Election Day and during the early voting period; sick or disabled; confined in jail but otherwise eligible to vote; or 65 years old or more.

Polls also show much tighter races in Texas this year. Democrats could take over the state House of Representatives for the first time in two decades.

For years, Texas had allowed straight-ticket voting, but Abbott signed a law in 2017 that eliminated the option starting this fall. Democrats sued to have it reinstated to reduce wait times for in-person voting, but a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday that November’s elections are too close for Texas to restore straight-ticket voting as an option.

The U.S. Postal Service informed Texas in July that, given the state’s current mail ballot request deadline, some ballots may not be delivered to voters by Election Day, and that even if all ballots reached voters on time, there was a “significant risk” that completed ballots postmarked on or near Election Day would not be received by the state’s Nov. 4 deadline.

The Texas Secretary of State’s office has not responded to Associated Press requests for comment on its plans to ensure the timely delivery of ballots.

___

Acacia Coronado is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

Latest News

Rice Tilley Jr.: June 21, 1936-Oct. 28, 2020

Rice Tilley Jr. courtesy Longtime Fort Worth lawyer and leader Rice Tilley died Wednesday morning, reportedly of  complications of COVID-19....

Texas Republicans highlight energy issues as a closing argument of campaign

By Mitchell Ferman, The Texas Tribune Oct. 28, 2020 "Texas Republicans highlight energy issues...

Kamala Harris to visit Rio Grande Valley, Fort Worth and Houston during Texas campaign swing Friday

By Patrick Svitek and Alex Samuels, The Texas Tribune Oct. 28, 2020 "Kamala Harris to visit Rio Grande...

Ex-Fort Worth officer’s trial set for next year in woman’s death

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — A judge in Texas has tentatively set an August trial date for a white former police officer...

Tarrant County reports 4 COVID deaths on Tuesday

Tarrant County Public Health on Tuesday, Oct. 27 reported four COVID-19 deaths. The deceased include two women in Fort Worth--one in her...