Following up on similar actions he’s taken in this year’s scheduled elections, Gov. Greg Abbott extended early voting for the upcoming November general election on Monday, citing his continued concerns about the Chinese coronavirus.
“As we respond to COVID-19, the State of Texas is focused on strategies that preserve Texans’ ability to vote in a way that also mitigates the spread of the virus,” Abbott said. “By extending the early voting period and expanding the period in which mail-in ballots can be hand-delivered, Texans will have greater flexibility to cast their ballots, while at the same time protecting themselves and others from COVID-19.”
Under Abbott’s new executive order, early voting for the November 3 general election will now begin on October 13—a change asked for by Chris Hollins, a Democrat who serves as Harris County clerk and vice chair for finance of the Texas Democrat Party.
In a letter penned to Abbott last week, Hollins wrote the following:
“I write today to ask two things of you: (1) please provide, by the end of July, the new start date of Early Voting for the November election, and (2) please increase Early Voting by at least one week, to begin no later than Tuesday, October 13, 2020.”
Still, Abbott’s decision to side with Democrats and extend early voting didn’t win him much praise from the party. Following the governor’s announcement that he would do what they asked, the party accused him of doing the “bare minimum.”
“Abbott’s decision to extend early voting by six days is exactly like his COVID-19 response: the bare minimum and not fully thought through,” state Democrat Party Chairman Gilberto Hinojosa said in a statement.
Hinojosa and Democrats are now calling on Abbott to expand mail-in voting for all Texans, something Republicans are opposed to and have defeated in court.
The November general election will feature contests between incumbent Republican President Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn and Democrat M.J. Hegar, other partisan contests, and a host of local elections that were initially scheduled for May but postponed to the November ballot.