- Instagram / @governorabbott
- Gov. Greg Abbott shows off an executive order during a recent press conference.
The promise, made in an interview Thursday with Lubbock TV station KCBD, comes a day after the all-Republican Texas Supreme Court ruled that voters not already eligible for the state's absentee voting program can't cite a lack of immunity to COVID-19 as justification for receiving a mail-in ballot.
During the interview, Abbott said he plans to extend early voting in November, just as he did for the July runoff election, the Texas Tribune reports.
"And what that does — it allows more people to go vote early in settings that are not highly congregated," the Republican governor said. "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's promise is unlikely to impress voting-rights groups, who continue to argue in multiple federal court cases that expanding the state's absentee voting eligibility is the only reasonable way to assure Texans they can safely cast ballots this election cycle.
H. Drew Galloway, executive director of MOVE Texas, a nonpartisan group that mobilizes young voters, called early voting "essential" to holding a safe November election but that alone isn't enough.
"It's clear Gov. Abbott would prefer all of us forget about the years-long voter-suppression campaign he and his allies have perpetuated," Galloway said. "From last session's anti-voter Senate Bill 9 to the failed voter purge he championed in early 2019 to blocking vulnerable Texans from accessing vote by mail during a pandemic, Gov. Abbott has shown us who he really is."
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