US election 2020: Texas governor cuts number of ballot drop-off points

AFP
Houston, United States Published: Oct 02, 2020, 02:50 PM(IST)

Mail in voting in the US Photograph:( Reuters )

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The action by Governor Greg Abbott, a Trump supporter, restricts access to the common practice of mail-in voting that is expected to become much more popular due to the coronavirus pandemic

The Republican governor of Texas has announced that voters will only have one place per county to drop off mail-in ballots across the vast US state.

The action by Governor Greg Abbott, a Trump supporter, restricts access to the common practice of mail-in voting that is expected to become much more popular due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"These enhanced security protocols will ensure greater transparency and will help stop attempts at illegal voting," Abbott said in a statement Thursday.

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Texas has some of the most populous counties in the country. More than 2.3 million voters live in Harris County, which includes Houston, but 11 of its 12 drop-off points are scheduled to close under the governor's order.

"This isn't security, it's suppression," senior county official Lina Hidalgo, a Democrat, said on Twitter.

"Mail ballot voters shouldn't have to drive 30 miles to drop off their ballot or rely on a mail system that's facing cutbacks."

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Abbott's move is in line with views expressed by President Donald Trump, who frequently claims without evidence that postal ballots are a source of massive vote fraud.

Mail-in votes can be dropped off at dedicated ballot boxes as an alternative to using the under-pressure postal service.

The practice is seen as safer for the elderly and others at higher risk from Covid-19 if they go to a polling station.

Apart from isolated incidents, no serious study has reported major fraud related to postal ballots in a US election. 

Voting by mail was widespread during the 2016 presidential race, where nearly a quarter of the votes (33 million) were mailed in.

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