AUSTIN (Nexstar) — Tuesday marks day one of early voting in Texas. This year, due to the pandemic, Governor Greg Abbott extended the early voting period by six days, giving registered voters 18 days to cast their ballot ahead of Election Day.
“I was the first one here at five o’clock in the morning. And I was the first one to vote,” Austin voter Jim Canning said.
He said he was inspired by the amount of people who turned out to vote early.
“I don’t know who they voted for. I just know who I voted for. But to have everybody coming out here in this amount of these numbers at this time of day is is very, very American,” Canning said.
“Everybody needs to get out and vote,” Abilene voter Schlone Lawler said Tuesday.
Election administrators across the state have been working to make sure it’s a safe experience amid the pandemic, all while dealing with some last-minute changes.
“It’s a big election a lot of people are going to be voting and so vote early,” Taylor County election administrator Freda Ragan said.
One of the most recent changes happened at the beginning of the month, when Abbott limited hand-delivery locations to just one per county.
“We were abruptly canceled without notice,” Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir said. The order came on the same day many counties in Texas opened their locations.
Voter rights organizations, including the League of United Latin American Citizens and the League of Women Voters, plan to appeal the order to the U.S. Supreme Court, while voters express confusion over the back-and-forth.
“I don’t know that I trust the mail-in… to what the extent that it used to be,” Lawler said.
The deadline to apply for a mail-in ballot is Oct. 23, although election officials recommend requesting one much earlier than that.
“I do not suggest that people wait till Oct. 23 to ask for a ballot; you’re pretty much guaranteed that you will not make it through the postal system,” DeBeauvoir said.