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We will have more early voting time in November

That’s good.

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 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.”

See here for the background. I had called on Abbott to do exactly this, though I did not expect that he would. He hasn’t said yet how much he’ll extend early voting – maybe we’ll get a third week, maybe a third and a fourth, who knows – but this is a Good Thing, and I’m glad to see it. Having the state pony up to help counties cover their extra expenses in this weird year, and not being fanatically opposed to letting people with a legitimate fear of COVID exposure vote by mail, would also be nice. But this is something, and credit where it’s due.

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  1. Bill Daniels says:

    I agree, Kuff, and good on you for daring to say you agree with the decision, even though Abbott is the one who made it. Having more early voting, and having people motivated to take advantage of it should be a game changer, and should negate the need for mass mail in ballots.

    Personally, I’d say an extra week, combined with adding the Saturday before election day should do it. In all the times I have early voted, I have never had to wait for more than a handful of people to vote, and usually just walk right on in. Others may be voting, but there are enough machines that there isn’t a wait.

  2. brad says:


    People are not motivated to vote in person right now. What are you talking about?

    Your anecdote about no wait time is empirically unsound.

  3. Wolfgang says:


    Kuff has my respect too. As some of you may have noticed, I am biased in favor examining public acts and decisions on their merits, rather than who is doing them, and prefer people-centered public policy over dogma, whether originalist or merely not very original. For the same reason, I just complimented Abbott on Ross’s Trib column, so no need to repeat myself here.

    That said, more mail-in voting would serve the same epidemiological risk-reduction purposes (public’s interest as opposed to GOP-captured State’s interest), and the 5th Circuit thingy is still ongoing, so I have a question for those better versed in all things appellate:


    Can you, you-all, or anyone at large, please explain to a non-specialist how the four distinct “writings” as Justice Guzman characterizes them are not dictum, lock stock and barrel? Or dicta, should the plural be more apposite, given that there are four satellites orbiting the same “nothingburger” rather than just one?

    I thought the state-law question (categorical COVID-specific application of the disability ground under the Texas Election Code) was now settled (which was also the AG’s major argument for federal abstention and immediate stay), but I am having second thoughts. …

    I mean the whole election-clerk mandamus gambit was contrived from the start. A few county election officials were hand-picked and forced into the posture of defendants (respondents, in mandamus lingo), but they had no occasion to exercise any discretion when processing the vote-by-mail application form, and the statutory construction issue wasn’t for them to opine on. That’s even more glaringly obvious in the case of the election administrators.

    The majority SCOTX opinion–if that it can even be called–DENIED mandamus relief against the election clerks, and the 3 additional writings all concurred in the denial. How was this gratuitous zoomy debate over the proper reading of “disability” for vote-by-mail purposes even relevant to whether or not the clerks failed to perform a ministerial duty when all they would do is check the application for completeness? And if it wasn’t relevant, how was the answer to the question essential to the disposition of the (trumped-up) case in which all ended up agreeing that the elections clerks had done nothing wrong?

    Was there even a case & controversy for jurisdictional purposes? And didn’t the SCOTX just endeavor to decide an abstract question of law in that proceeding (though not abstract in the Travis County case, which was brought as a declaratory judgment actions to resolve legal uncertainty)?

    Now … as far as the collateral effect on the other pending cases goes, I get it.

    With this foursome of writings handed down and basically signaling unanimity (see again Guzman), the Fifth Circuit obviously does not have to Erie guess anymore as to how the state high court would resolve the state-law statutory construction issue, not to mention farm out a certified question back to the SCOTX, but does the gist of what the supremes agreed upon here even amount to binding precedent for Texas, given the procedural posture and the disposition of the case?

    And is this assortment of “writings” even binding on the Texas Democratic Party and the League of Women Voters, who were — at least under declaratory judgment act principles — necessary parties, but were deliberately excluded from the online zoom session?

    Any thoughts?