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No expansion of mail-in ballot system despite COVID-19 concerns

Posted at 9:17 PM, May 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-14 23:51:02-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Nueces County will not be able to expand its mail-in ballot system for the primary runoff elections in July.

The Democratic Party and The League of Women Voters sued the state government in hopes of adding the fear of contracting COVID-19 at polling places to the list of qualifications to cast ballots through the mail.

A district judge ruled in favor of mail-in ballot system expansion in Travis County, and on Thursday an appellate court upheld that ruling. But Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton says that ruling only applies to that one county.

It means, in Nueces County, people wishing to vote in the July 14 primary runoffs will have to do so in person at a polling place.

Nueces County Clerk Kara Sands said she will do all she can to make sure the polls are coronavirus-free, and safe for everyone.

“Several of our locations (for early voting) are senior centers, and we're not (going to use them) at all," Sands said. "That’s the first thing we did. We will also have sanitizing stations when you come in, social distancing, masks for all of our workers, and gloves."

One of her bigger concerns is keeping touchscreen voting machines clear of any germs.

“We’ll do cleaning in between (voters), but we’ll also give the voters alcohol wipes to clean it before and to clean it after," she said. "We’re going to need their help as well.”

Some voters who are concerned about COVID-19 say they won't let their fears get in the way of doing their civic duty.

“I’m going to vote," Jakki Deery said. "Whether I have to wear a mask or what-have-you; I’m going."