The battle over a Texas order limiting ballot drop-off locations, explained

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An election worker guides voters in cars at a drive-through mail ballot drop-off site at NRG Stadium on October 7, 2020, in Houston, Texas. | Go Nakamura/Getty Images

On Friday, a federal judge said counties could reinstate multiple drop-off locations, but now a higher court has stayed that ruling.

Some Texas counties have worked to expand access to absentee voting amid the Covid-19 pandemic, and the state has responded by limiting those efforts. On Friday, a federal judge ruled the state could not limit the number of ballot drop-off locations in each county.

But, on Saturday, Texas appealed the ruling, and a federal appeals court agreed that restrictions on ballot drop-off locations can stay in place until the judges officially rule.

On October 1, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott issued a proclamation that allowed for only one drop-off location in each of Texas’s 254 counties, regardless of population or geographic size. Abbott cited election security as a justification for the order. But it eliminated multiple drop-off sites available for Texans; for instance, Harris County — the third most populous county in the country — had to shut 11 of its 12 drop-off sites.


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