Lawsuit takes aim at start date for early voting as some Texas Republicans challenge Gov. Greg Abbott's order

Gov. Greg Abbott on July 27 issued an executive order extending the early voting period for the Nov. 3 election. (Screenshot of Sept. 17 press conference)
Gov. Greg Abbott on July 27 issued an executive order extending the early voting period for the Nov. 3 election. (Screenshot of Sept. 17 press conference)

Gov. Greg Abbott on July 27 issued an executive order extending the early voting period for the Nov. 3 election. (Screenshot of Sept. 17 press conference)

A group of prominent Texas Republicans, including the state party chairman, has embarked on a legal effort to undo the governor’s executive order that extended the early voting period for the Nov. 3 election.

Chairman Allen West of the Texas Republican Party this week joined with Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller and a number of lawmakers to ask the Supreme Court of Texas to halt Gov. Greg Abbott’s July 27 executive order, which moved up the start of the early voting period to Oct. 13.

The group alleges Abbott, who is also a Republican, violated a state law that requires early voting to begin the 17th day before the election.

Abbott’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment Sept. 23.

As part of the order, Abbott had also sought to ensure mail-in ballots could be delivered in person prior to Election Day, rather than only on Election Day itself. The group suing the state is challenging this part of the order as well.


"By extending the early voting period and expanding the period in which mail-in ballots can be hand-delivered, Texans will have greater flexibility to cast their ballots, while at the same time protecting themselves and others from COVID-19,” Abbott said in the July news release that accompanied the order.

Jared Woodfill, the attorney for the group behind the lawsuit, said his clients believe Abbott should have called a special session of the Legislature instead of ordering the earlier start.

When asked about whether his clients saw an extended early voting period as something that would favor one party over another, Woodfill said it’s not clear how the measure might affect the results.

“Every person I’ve talked to has different views,” Woodfill said. “Some think it would hurt. Some think it would help. But my point to them is, regardless, [an executive order] isn’t the way to do it. Let’s let our representatives come to Austin, let them debate it, and then they can pass legislation or not.”

Woodfill said it was unclear when the court might weigh in on the lawsuit. But the group is seeking emergency court action that could put a halt to early voting until the original start date of Oct. 19, he said.

Read the full lawsuit filing below.

By Daniel Houston
Daniel Houston covers Plano city government, transportation, business and education for Community Impact Newspaper. A Fort Worth native and Baylor University graduate, Daniel reported previously for The Associated Press in Oklahoma City and The Dallas Morning News.


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