AUSTIN, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued a proclamation Thursday that looks to enhance security for delivering mail ballots in person ahead of Election Day.
Under the proclamation, which begins Friday, mail ballots that are delivered in person must be delivered to a single early voting clerk’s office location that is designated by the county’s early voting clerk.READ MORE: Head-On Crash Near Glen Rose Leaves 3 Dead, Officials Say
It will also be required that early voting clerks allow poll watchers to observe activity conducted at the mail ballot drop-off locations.
“The State of Texas has a duty to voters to maintain the integrity of our elections,” Abbott said. “As we work to preserve Texans’ ability to vote during the COVID-19 pandemic, we must take extra care to strengthen ballot security protocols throughout the state. These enhanced security protocols will ensure greater transparency and will help stop attempts at illegal voting.”
In North Texas, both Tarrant and Denton county election offices said this would not impact their current plans. Dallas and Collin counties have not yet commented.READ MORE: Unvaccinated COVID-19 Patients Filling Up Hospitals, Austin Officials Say ICU Capacity Reaching 'Critical Point'
The Associated Press reports Harris County would largely be affected due to having 12 of these drop-off locations as of September. It will now have to reduce that number to one.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Texas released a statement on the governor’s decision:
“We are dismayed that the governor of Texas decided to curtail the ability of Texans to cast their ballots safely in the middle of a pandemic by limiting the number of drop-off sites per county. While the governor asserts that he is attempting to ‘strengthen ballot security,’ we see this as yet another thinly disguised attempt to stymie the vote. As is well documented, Texas has a voter suppression problem, not a ballot security problem. The governor should work with counties to ensure that all timely mailed ballots are received and counted, and that all voters appearing at polling places to submit ballots or vote are free from harassment.”
The League of United Latin American Citizens said it plans to file a lawsuit against the state for the announced changes.MORE NEWS: Police: Texas Man With COVID-19 Arrested After 'Intentionally Breathing' On Family, Assaulting Woman
Election Day is Nov. 3, with early voting beginning on Oct. 13.