Texas Republican Gov. Abbott sued by GOP over early voting decision

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The Texas Republican Party filed a lawsuit against the state governor Wednesday, after Gov. Greg Abbott added six days to the early voting period in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

“The Texas Constitution is not a document of convenient consultation,” said the lawsuit filed by Texas Republican Party Chairman, Allen West, along with other party members. “It is a steadfast, uninterrupted charter of governmental structure.”

The Texas GOP party is claiming that Abbott did not have the legal authority to change the early voting start date from Oct. 19 to Oct. 13., adding that he was acting like a “king” by unilaterally altering the dates.

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"Governor Abbott seems to have forgotten that the Texas Constitution is not a document that he consults at his convenience," Jared Woodfill, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, said in a statement to the Texas Tribune. "It is an uninterrupted charter of governmental structure that limits the Governor Abbott’s ability to act as a king."

The lawsuit argues that Abbott is required to consult any constitutional changes with the state Legislature.

Abbott argued in July that extending early voting would allow more voters the ability to safely vote during the Nov. 3 presidential election.

"As we respond to COVID-19, the State of Texas is focused on strategies that preserve Texans’ ability to vote in a way that also mitigates the spread of the virus," Abbott said in a July statement.  "By extending the early voting period and expanding the period in which mail-in ballots can be hand-delivered, Texans will have greater flexibility to cast their ballots, while at the same time protecting themselves and others from COVID-19."

But Republican lawmakers have also voiced their dismay of how Abbott has handled the coronavirus by initially shutting down “nonessential” businesses and enforcing mask mandates.

“Given the extraordinary circumstances Texans have faced over the past seven (7) months, it is shocking that Governor Abbott has continued to unilaterally suspend laws while refusing to convene the Texas Legislature,” the lawsuit said.

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The Republican Party’s lawsuit comes at a time when Republican lawmakers across the nation are pushing for more measures to limit mail-in ballots and early voting.

“The more we expand the time, place, and manner that people can vote, the more opportunity there is for corruption,” West reportedly said in a statement earlier this week.

President Trump, along with other members of the Republican Party, have repeatedly claimed that mail-in voting is an unsafe form of voting that could allegedly lead to invalid election results – though they have yet to provide evidence to show that voting through the mail leads to an increase in fraudulent ballots casted.

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Millions of Americans typically vote by mail and avoid the polls on Election Day with more than 40 percent of Americans voting by mail in 2016 and 2012.

Abbott's office could not be immediately reached for comment.

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