US election: Democrats hit back after Texas governor restricts postal vote drop-off centres
Voting in Texas has become more difficult for those who rely on casting their ballot by post.
The state’s Republican governor Greg Abbott has ordered counties to have only one postal ballot drop-off site, meaning dozens of others will be closed.
Mr Abbott said the “enhanced security protocols will ensure greater transparency and will help stop attempts at illegal voting”.
The sites closed include some in Texas’s largest cities and Democrats described the move as voter suppression.
The limit of one drop-off site per county will be a big change for many of the state’s 254 counties.
Harris County, which stretches more than 1,700 square miles and includes Houston, had 12 drop-off locations for more than 2 million registered voters as of September.
Travis County, which includes the state capital of Austin and stretches over more than 1,000 square miles, had four drop-off sites.
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Texas Democratic Party chairman Gilberto Hinojosa said that Republicans were “on the verge of losing, so Gov Abbott is trying to adjust the rules last minute”.
He said courts have ruled it is too late to make changes to election rules, adding: “Make no mistake: democracy itself is on the ballot.”
Harris County clerk Chris Hollins said: “…to force hundreds of thousands of seniors and voters with disabilities to use a single drop-off location in a county that stretches over nearly 2,000 square miles is prejudicial and dangerous.”
Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo said that “this isn’t security, it’s suppression”.
She added: “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.”
Texas is among five states limiting postal voting in November’s US presidential election.
To qualify for a postal vote in Texas, voters must be away from their county of residence on election day and during the early voting period; sick or disabled; in jail but otherwise eligible to vote; or aged over 65.
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