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AUSTIN -- Gov. Greg Abbott has extended in-person early voting for this fall’s presidential election by one week, starting on Tuesday, October 13. During the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, large public gatherings, like those often seen at polling places, create opportunities for the virus to spread. Expanding early voting opportunities is one way that states can reduce crowding at the polls on Election Day.
Many states have expanded vote-by-mail opportunities in response to the pandemic. Texas still requires that voters have an approved excuse to get a mail-in ballot, and COVID-19 is not among the approved excuses.
In response, TexPIRG Director Bay Scoggin made the following statement:
“Governor Abbott kicked a field goal when what we needed was a touchdown. The governor’s decision to extend early voting is good for the health of Texans and the health of our democracy, but it doesn't go far enough to limit the dangerous choice between our constitutional right to vote and our health.
"Allowing more days for early voting will give Texans more opportunities to vote safely, and we encourage voters to take advantage of these additional early voting options to help reduce Election Day crowding, which will reduce the threat of catching or spreading COVID-19.
“While we applaud Gov. Abbott’s decision today, it’s absurd that during a pandemic, our state still isn’t allowing any voter to request a mail-in ballot. Voting from the safety of our own homes is the safest way to vote in a pandemic. Our decision makers had months to make that happen, and failed to do so, putting Texans at unnecessary risk.
"Despite that missed opportunity, there are still additional steps the governor must take between now and Election Day, including making certain all polling places follow the latest CDC guidance for keeping both voters and poll workers safe, providing funding for PPE, and creating sufficient space for social distancing at polling places.”
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