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TEXAS VIEW: Early voting extension the right call - Odessa American: Texas Opinion

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TEXAS VIEW: Early voting extension the right call

THE POINT: Preparing for a large voter turnout will take more time and effort this year.

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Posted: Thursday, August 6, 2020 2:30 am

Gov. Greg Abbott made the right call allowing voters more time to cast early ballots for the November general election.

The extension of the early voting period by six days will help minimize lines at the polls for an election that is expected to draw a record turnout.

In Bexar County, primary runoff elections generally garner a 2.6 percent to 5.3 percent voter turnout. A double-digit turnout in last month’s elections has Elections Administrator Jacque Callanen anticipating 60 to 65 percent of the county’s more than 1 million registered voters will show up at the polls for the November election. Presidential elections generally bring out about 50 percent of registered voters.

Preparing for the large voter turnout will take more time and effort this election cycle due to public health concerns, and the need for physical distancing and personal protection for poll workers and voters.

The better solution would have been to ease the restrictions on who can cast a mail ballot. Given the current political climate, this is unlikely to occur any time soon, which means those who can vote by mail need to take advantage of the opportunity to reduce the health risks for themselves and others.

Texas election law allows mail balloting only for those who have a disability, are 65 or older, or will be be out of the state during the election.

One-fifth of Bexar County’s registered voters are 65 or older. During the spring primaries, 23 percent of the voters 65 and older cast ballots. Most of these voters appeared in person at the polls.

If you are eligible to vote by mail, skip the line. Don’t put yourself or someone else at risk. Applications for mail ballots can be submitted now. The application is on the Bexar County Elections website.

If all 234,802 Bexar County voters who are 65 or older would cast mail ballots, it would significantly reduce the line at the polls during the early voting period and on Election Day.

Early voting for the general election starts Oct. 13 and ends Oct. 30.

If you can’t vote by mail, make sure to wear a mask, even though they are not required at the polls; treat other voters with kindness, even though they might be voting differently than you; and show appreciation to the poll workers, many of whom are older. They are taking great risk to keep democracy humming.

Odessa, TX

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