Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has closed down locations across the state where absentee ballots could be accepted, making it harder for residents to vote early. On October 1, the governor ordered counties to stop accepting hand-delivered absentee ballots at more than one location per county.
Among the most profoundly affected: Highly populated counties like Harris County, which includes Houston and has more than 4.7 million residents.
Harris County previously had 11 locations where you could drop off ballots. Now there will be one, requiring some residents to drive more than an hour. Meanwhile, Dallas County had five drop-off locations prior to the order. Now: Just one, for a county with a population of more than 2.5 million people.
The drop-off sites were a plus for voters trying to avoid crowds on Election Day.
In Travis County, which had three before Abbott's order, the county's only location will be at 5501 Airport Blvd.
The new order will also make it difficult in rural counties like Brewster, the largest county in Texas, which covers 6,192 square miles, requiring ridiculously lengthy drives to deliver ballots.
Abbott said the new order is to ensure the security of the ballots, and repeated the disputed claim that this will help stop attempts at illegal voting.
In an interview with KVUE on October 1, Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir called the decision "extremely disappointing."
"I found it extremely disappointing this morning to get this late message from the governor that suddenly in-person hand delivery, which has been part of the law for years and years, is suddenly a problem for him," DeBeauvoir told KVUE. "It's a problem. And it means voters got targeted."
Voters can bring their completed ballots along with their state approved identification to 5501 Airport Blvd. This location is open from 8 am - 5 pm, Monday through Friday, until early voting begins. According to the Travis County Clerk's office, voters may only hand deliver their own carrier envelope, must present an acceptable form of ID, will be asked to sign a signature roster, and will then deposit their mail-in ballot into a ballot box. For questions, call 512-238-VOTE (8683) or read our guide to voting here.
On July 27, Abbott added six days of early absentee voting, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic — an order that Texas Republicans are challenging in court.