Abbott Issues Proclamation Limiting Ballot Drop-Off Sites

Only one location per county allowed under the order

The beginning of mail-in ballot drop-off began today. (Photo by Jana Birchum)

Governor Greg Abbott has issued a proclamation requiring Texas counties to limit ballot drop-off sites to one location.

The order, which goes into effect tomorrow (Oct. 2), effectively closes multiple satellite sites where eligible mail-in voters could hand-deliver their ballots. Abbott’s proclamation also requires that counties allow poll watchers to observe any activity related to the in-person delivery of a ballot at one central drop-off site.

“The State of Texas has a duty to voters to maintain the integrity of our elections,” said Gov. Abbott in a statement. “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.”

Today, the Travis County Clerk’s Office opened two Down­town sites – the 700 Lavaca St. parking garage and 1010 Lavaca St. parking lot – and the clerk’s office at 5501 Airport Blvd. for voters to drive up and drop off their own completed ballots through Election Day, Nov. 3. The new order modifies Abbott’s July 27 proclamation which allowed eligible mail-in ballots to deliver their ballots in person prior to Election Day, in addition to tacking on six days of in-person early voting (Oct. 13-30).

The Texas Democratic Party called Abbott’s new order a “blatant voter suppression tactic.” In a statement issued today, TDP Chair Gilbert Hinojosa said, “Courts all over the country, including the Fifth Circuit yesterday, have held that it is too late to change election rules, but our failed Republican leadership will try anyway.”

The Travis County Clerk’s Office has confirmed the ballot drop-off sites at 700 Lavaca St. and 1010 Lavaca St. will be closed tomorrow; the clerk’s office (5501 Airport Blvd.) will be open tomorrow from 8am-5pm for voters to hand-deliver their own completed ballot. In an emailed statement, the clerk’s office said, “This late, last minute edict is bad news for voters and bad news for elections. The Travis County Clerk is in discussion with legal counsel to explore all options. In midst of this disruption, the Travis County Clerk remains committed to offering you a hand delivery drive-thru vote option. The County Clerk [Dana DeBeauvoir] says, ‘I will not allow Governor Abbott or anyone else to interfere with your right to vote.'”

This is a developing story. Stay tuned for updates online and in next week’s print issue.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated since publication to include the Travis County Clerk’s Office statement on Gov. Abbott’s order.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

Please enable JavaScript to view comments.