The Denton County Elections Administration announced on Friday that it had placed a portable building in its parking lot for voters choosing to hand-deliver their completed mail ballots.
The announcement came one day after Gov. Greg Abbott issued a proclamation limiting where eligible voters could hand-deliver mail in ballots. According to the proclamation, beginning on Friday, mail-in ballots delivered in person must be delivered to a single early voting clerk’s office location, designated by a county’s early voting clerk.
Early voting clerks must also allow poll watchers to observe any activity conducted at the location that has to do with the in-person delivery of a marked mail ballot, according to the proclamation.
"The State of Texas has a duty to voters to maintain the integrity of our elections," Abbott said in a statement. "As we work to preserve Texans’ ability to vote during the COVID-19 pandemic, we must take extra care to strengthen ballot security protocols throughout the state. These enhanced security protocols will ensure greater transparency and will help stop attempts at illegal voting."
Critics of the proclamation have expressed concerns that it will disproportionately impact voters of color in larger cities, according to the Texas Tribune.
The Denton County early voting location for hand-delivered mail-in ballots is located in the city of Denton. The county’s announcement included a warning that voters can only drop off their own ballot and that they will be asked to present an acceptable form of photo ID and to sign a roster.
The station will be open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, except for voting periods during which the location will “mimic” those of early voting and election day locations, the post stated.
The county’s elections office did not respond to a request for comment.
The county elections office website suggests submitting an application for ballot by mail for the Nov. 3 election as soon as possible.
“The deadline for mail ballot applications is October 23, 2020 and the closer to the deadline that we receive your application, the shorter the window will be for them to be received by our office before the deadline to receive ballots,” the webpage states.
In addition, the webpage states that the Texas Election Code does not allow for drop boxes for voters’ mail ballots, and that the county will only accept hand-delivered mail ballots at its office.
“This also means that you cannot hand deliver your mail ballots to a polling location during Early Voting or on Election Day,” the webpage states.
The county elections administration has provided information on numerous elements of voting in the Nov. 3 election, including in-person polling suggestions.
“In order to minimize your wait time at the polling place, we are suggesting that, if you are able, vote early,” the county elections office website states. “We are opening a record number of early voting locations and Governor Abbott has extended the early voting period from the typical two weeks to a three-week period (October 13-October 30).”
The webpage adds that the county will have all sites open for each day of the early voting period, including during weekends.
“Hopefully, this means that there will be ample time for everyone to vote early,” the website states. “Also, if you want to minimize potential contact with other voters, a pro tip would be to pick a less trafficked polling location and visit during non-peak times of the day. That would mean picking a more rural location and avoiding times of the day such as polls open, lunch, and right before polls close.”
The last day to register to vote remains Monday. As of Friday, the county reported 550,924 registered voters.