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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Texans given few options for safer voting during pandemic

Photo+courtesy+Adobe+Stock%0AAbsentee+voters+have+the+option+to+deliver+their+ballots+in+person+to+avoid+potential+postal+delays+for+the+2020+Election.
Photo courtesy Adobe Stock Absentee voters have the option to deliver their ballots in person to avoid potential postal delays for the 2020 Election.

ALYSON OLIVER
campus editor

Photo courtesy Adobe Stock
Absentee voters have the option to deliver their ballots in person to avoid potential postal delays for the 2020 Election.

Texas has given its voters scarce options to avoid risking exposure to COVID-19 this election. Access to absentee ballots is limited.

“I think that our government needs to work a lot harder to make sure that everyone has a chance to make their voice heard while feeling safe,” TR student and government association historian Kaitlyn Moore said.

According to the Texas Tribune, many states have made mail-in voting easier and more accessible to their residents in response to the pandemic, but the restrictive qualifications for absentee voting in Texas have not changed, meaning applicants must be seniors, have a disability, be out of the country during the election or be incarcerated but still eligible to vote in order to meet the requirements.

“Many people do not qualify for absentee voting, which leads to several people just forgoing voting altogether, and obviously this is a huge problem,” Moore said.

Governor Greg Abbott has expressed concerns about security, although experts disagree that mail-in voting is unsafe, according to the Texas Tribune.

“I think instead of just saying it is fraudulent, then there should’ve been more investments put in place to ensure that there are more workers and ballots with clear instructions to allow more people to use this method of voting,” NW student Taylor Travis said.

On top of the already restrictive qualifications, Abbott limited absentee ballot drop-off locations to one per county, according to the Texas Tribune. At these drop-off sites, voters are able to deliver their own ballots themselves and eliminate the risk of postal delays.

Since this order even applied to larger, more populated areas such as Harris County, which covers approximately 1,700 square miles, it raised some concerns about possible voter suppression, the Texas Tribune said.

Crowding people together at one site, without consistent sanitization between visitors, sounds just as risky as going to vote in person, Travis said.

According to the Texas Tribune, the order was recently overridden by Travis County judge Tim Sulak, and there can now be more than one drop-off location per county. However, there is still only one site in Tarrant County.

Earlier in the year, six days were added to the early voting period in Texas, the Texas Tribune said. Voters may also deliver their mail-in ballots prior to Election Day.

“Extending the deadline for voting is smart,” South student Sarah Taiclet said. She added that she believes the deadline could be extended further.

“I think that this is a sufficient amount of time,” Moore said. “Many people have been able to prepare for this influx of mail-in ballots. So, I have confidence that the system they have worked out will work and be accurate.”

Travis said, with the expected influx of ballots from immunocompromised people. There should be more time allowed for voting, especially with the decline in federal funding for the U.S. Postal Service, potential mail delays and “the need to properly count and sort all of the ballots by Election Day,” she added.

“Votes matter, every single one,” Taiclet said. “It’s important the people of the U.S.have a voice.”

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