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Gov. Abbott extends early voting period for November election due to challenges of pandemic

A voter, right, shows her identification to a Harris County election clerk before voting, Tuesday, July 14, 2020, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
A voter, right, shows her identification to a Harris County election clerk before voting, Tuesday, July 14, 2020, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

HOUSTON – Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced Monday that he issued a proclamation extending the early voting period for the November election by nearly a week in response to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Per the proclamation, early voting by personal appearance in Texas will begin on Tuesday, Oct. 13, instead of Monday, Oct. 19. The early voting period will continue till Oct. 30 before Election Day on Nov. 3.

GET READY: Here’s how to register to vote in Texas and when your deadline is

“The proclamation also expands the period in which marked mail-in ballots may be delivered in person to the early voting clerk’s office, allowing such delivery prior to as well as on Election Day,” the governor’s office wrote in a release.

“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,” said Governor Abbott. “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.”

The extension itself is not a surprise. During a TV interview in late May, Abbott said he would add more time to the early voting period for the November election — like he did for the primary runoff election earlier this month — but did not elaborate.

Last week, Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins asked Abbott to provide more detail so that election officials could have enough time to prepare. In a letter to the governor, Hollins requested Abbott move the start date to Oct. 13 at the latest.

For the runoffs, Abbott had doubled the early voting period, shifting the start date from July 6 to June 29. The end date was July 10.

Abbott and other Texas GOP leaders continue to resist a push by Democrats to expand mail-in voting. Democrats failed to convince the courts to expand mail-in voting for the runoffs but are pressing forward with their efforts for the general election.

In addition to the presidential race, Texans will vote Nov. 3 on Republican U.S. Sen. John Cornyn’s reelection as well as a host of nationally targeted down-ballot contests for the U.S. House and Texas House, where Democrats are pushing to take the majority.

See other important, election-related deadlines coming up on the Texas Secretary of State’s website.