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Early Voting Begins on June 29

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Extended Until July 10

By Will Johnson

Messenger Reporter

EAST TEXAS – Despite being pushed back because of the COVID-19 pandemic, early voting for area runoff elections will commence on Monday, June 29.

On Monday, May 11, Governor Greg Abbott issued a proclamation to extend the early voting period for July 14 runoff elections.

The proclamation moves the beginning date for early voting from July 6 to June 29. Abbott noted in his proclamation that he “… has the express authority to suspend the provisions of any regulatory statute prescribing the procedures for conduct of state business or the orders or rules of a state agency if strict compliance with the provisions, orders, or rules would in any way prevent, hinder, or delay necessary action in coping with a disaster.”

Early voting ends on July 10.

According to Alexa Ura with the Texas Tribune, “Abbott previously used his emergency powers under his statewide disaster declaration to delay the primary runoffs, which were originally slated for May, and a special election for the Austin area’s Texas Senate District 14. Dozens of runoffs are ongoing for party nominations to congressional and local offices. The most prominent is the contest between former Air Force helicopter pilot MJ Hegar and state Sen. Royce West of Dallas for the Democratic nomination to take on Republican U.S. Sen. John Cornyn.”

Local election officials across the state, Ura stated in her article, have been deciphering how to safely host voters for the runoff elections under circumstances unseen by even the most veteran among them. They have been stocking up on sanitizing and protective gear and considering plastic shields, like those now common at checkout counters, for check-in stations at polling places.

In Houston County, there are two runoff elections. The first is for the Republican nomination for sheriff between Randy Hargrove and Ryan Martin. The second runoff election is for the Republican nomination for the Precinct Three County Commissioner’s seat between Jimmy McMillian and Gene Stokes

In his proclamation, Abbott stated, “As counties across Texas prepare for the upcoming elections on July 14, 2020, and establish procedures for eligible voters to exercise their right to vote in person, it is necessary that election officials implement health protocols to conduct elections safely and to protect election workers and voters.”

The governor’s proclamation further stated, “In order to ensure that elections proceed efficiently and safely when Texans go to the polls to cast a vote in person during early voting or on election day, it is necessary to increase the number of days in which polling locations will be open during the early voting period, such that election officials can implement appropriate social distancing and safe hygiene practices.”

Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at wjohnson@messenger-news.com.   

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