AUSTIN, Texas – In an effort to ensure strong participation in the May elections despite coronavirus concerns, the ACLU of Texas sent a letter Thursday to Texas officials encouraging them to provide all eligible Texas voters the option of voting by mail and to continue with May runoff elections as scheduled.
Governor Greg Abbott, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, Secretary of State Ruth Hughes and County Clerks received a letter. The ACLU of Texas is open to working collaboratively with elected officials and serving as a resource to help protect civil liberties in COVID-19 response planning.
The letter reads, “There is no reason to delay elections when alternate strategies allow the election to move forward on time and with meaningful participation. There is sufficient time to prepare for a successful election in spite of COVID-19, if the State and counties begin preparing now.”
Suggestions from the ACLU of Texas include:
- Expand the availability of mail-in ballots to all eligible voters;
- Proactively educate all eligible voters of the option to vote by mail;
- Continue in-person voting alongside expanded vote by mail to ensure maximum voter participation;
- Extend early voting to two weeks and include weekend access to polling locations; and
- Stress safety for voters and poll workers by providing appropriate protective gear, cleaning supplies, and hand sanitizer at all polling places.
Texas law provides that eligible voters may vote by mail when voting in person would pose a health risk. The letter stresses that the risk posed by COVID-19 qualifies all Texans to vote by mail.