Other large counties — like Tarrant, Dallas and El Paso County — only had one drop-off location already in place.
The Republican governor said in a statement the order was made to enhance ballot security. It also allows poll watchers to observe the in-person delivery of mail-in ballots by voters, but critics say it could severely limit access for many voters.
“The State of Texas has a duty to voters to maintain the integrity of our elections,” Abbott said. “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.”
The decision has already drawn fire from Texas Democrats. The state’s Democratic party chair, Gilberto Hinojosa, labeled it a “blatant voter suppression tactic” in a press release. The group Let America Vote also blasted the move.
“The governor is making it harder for people to vote in the middle of a global pandemic that has claimed the lives of over 16,000 Texans,” the group said in a statement. “It is a shameful, blatant act of voter suppression that will disproportionately impact the large number of Black and Latinx voters in Texas’ biggest counties.”
In July, Abbott issued an order expanding the amount of time for early voting by six days and for hand-delivering mail-in ballots out of safety concerns due to the pandemic.
This is a breaking story and will be updated.