Take that, Gov. Abbott

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

The fight over whether Texas can have more than one ballot box drop-off location per county should be over … but it likely is going to drag on.

Damn!

U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman of Austin has ruled that Gov. Greg Abbott’s order limiting each of Texas’s 254 counties to a single drop-off location for absentee ballots is no longer valid. The state likely will appeal the ruling.

Pitman, named to the federal bench in 2014 by President Obama, said Abbott failed to prove the existence of widespread voter fraud, which was the governor’s rationale for limiting the drop-off locations. Abbott’s order in fact placed a hardship on those who live long distances from those locations. Moreover, the ruling inhibited voter participation in many of Texas’s more populated counties.

I live in Collin County, home to more than 1 million Texans. Many of them are voting already. Early in-person voting begins next Tuesday. However, in our county, we were limited to just a single drop-off site, the same as next-door Dallas County (a much more populous county) and tiny rural counties that have only a handful of voters.

“By limiting ballot return centers to one per county,” Pitman wrote, “older and disabled voters living in Texas’s largest and most populous counties must travel further distances to more crowded ballot return centers where they would be at an increased risk of being infected by the coronavirus in order to exercise their right to vote and have it counted.”

This whole issue, quite naturally, is revolving around a partisan axis. Democrats hated the governor’s decision; Republicans applauded it. Democrats contend the GOP governor aims to suppress the vote; Republicans contend the governor is right to be concerned about ballot security.

Except for this: There is no evidence of widespread ballot theft. Therefore, I’ll got with the Democrats’ assertion that the GOP seeks in reduce voter participation this November, believing that more voters means their guy at the top of the ballot — Donald J. Trump — is going to lose.

Which is why Democrats, led by presidential nominee Joe Biden, are urging early voting whenever possible. They want us all to have our voices heard.

To that end, Judge Pitman has sounded a clarion call for greater voter participation.

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