The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Gov. Greg Abbott

Photo by Jay Godwin via LBJLibraryNow

Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott announced on Thursday that each county in the state can only have one designated spot for voters to return absentee ballots — a move that will undoubtedly make it harder to vote, as it will require many people in the state to travel further to drop off completed ballots.

Abbott claimed the move was aimed at "enhancing ballot security protocols," and went on to say that he is authorizing "poll watchers to observe any activity conducted at the early voting clerk's office location."

"The State of Texas has a duty to voters to maintain the integrity of our elections," Abbott said in a news release. "As we work to preserve Texans' ability to vote during the COVID-19 pandemic, we must take extra care to strengthen ballot security protocols throughout the state. These enhanced security protocols will ensure greater transparency and will help stop attempts at illegal voting."

People in Texas who want to vote may have to travel hundreds of miles to do so.

For example, Harris County — the largest county in Texas that encompasses the city of Houston — is 1,703 square miles, according to data from the Census Bureau. That's larger than the entire state of Rhode Island, which is 1,545 square miles. Currently, Harris County has 12 ballot drop-off sites — 11 satellite offices of the county clerk, as well as one arena located in Houston.

Travis County, which includes the capital city of Austin, currently has four drop-off sites.

Abbott's move comes as Donald Trump has been railing against absentee ballots, falsely claiming they're rife with fraud and even vowing to get absentee ballots tossed out to help him win reelection.

Trump's campaign has filed numerous lawsuits to make it harder to vote by mail, including efforts to reduce the number of ballot drop boxes in states across the country. (Trump has lost many of these lawsuits already, as his campaign has been unable to prove absentee ballots lead to fraud or that ballot drop boxes are not secure.)

Trump also called on his supporters to watch the polls, a move that's leading officials in states across the country to worry about voter intimidation.

Abbott has been a Trump ally, and his false claim that poll watchers and decreased drop-off locations and are needed for "security" reasons seems to be taking Trump's lies and turning them into policy.

Marc Elias, a lawyer who has been helping Democrats fight against Trump and the Republican Party's efforts to make it harder to vote, condemned Abbott's move.

"This is an outrageous act of voter suppression by the Republicans who know they are losing at the ballot box," Elias tweeted. "We will explore ALL legal options to ensure voting rights for all Texans!"

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

Start your day with National Memo Newsletter

Know first.

The opinions that matter. Delivered to your inbox every morning

For a long time, inflation has been the phantom of the American economy: often expected but never seen. But the latest Consumer Price Index, which showed that prices rose by five percent from May of last year to May of this year, raises fears that it is breaking down the front door and taking over the guest room.

The price jump was the biggest one-month increase since 2008. It appears to support the warning of former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, who wrote in February that President Joe Biden's budget binge could "set off inflationary pressures of a kind we have not seen in a generation." Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell charged last month that the administration has already produced "raging inflation."

Keep reading... Show less