Gov. Greg Abbott said Thursday he will extend the early voting period for an unspecified amount of time during the November election as concerns continue to persist around in-person voting during the coronavirus pandemic.
Abbott has already doubled the time period for the primary runoff election on July 14, calling it necessary so that "election officials can implement appropriate social distancing and safe hygiene practices."
In a TV interview Thursday afternoon, Abbott was asked if he believes Texas voters will be able to cast their ballots safely not only this summer but also in the fall.
"We do, and for this reason, and that is ... Texas has always had early voting, and what I did for the July time period and what we will do again for the November time period is we will extend the early voting period," Abbott said in the interview with KCBD in Lubbock. "And what that does — it allows more people to go vote early in settings that are not highly congregated. As a result, you can go vote without having to worry about a whole bunch of people being around you that you could contract COVID-19 from. That makes voting a lot safer [of a] setting than it would otherwise be with the shortened early voting time period."
Abbott did not elaborate on how much time he would add to the early voting period for the November election. For the July runoffs, he moved up the beginning of the early voting period from July 6 to June 29. The last day remains July 10.
Early voting for the Nov. 3 election is currently set to start Oct. 19 and end Oct. 30.
Texas is currently battling lawsuits at the state and federal levels seeking to expand vote-by-mail as a result of the pandemic. The Texas Supreme Court ruled against such efforts Wednesday, the latest development in a quick-moving legal saga that is likely headed to the U.S. Supreme Court.