Early voting extended, straight ticket option cut


Early voting polls opened in Bosque County on Tuesday, Oct. 13 and will remain open through Friday, Oct. 30, giving voters a full six days more than is traditional to get their ballots in before Super Tuesday’s general election on Tuesday, Nov. 3.

Through an executive order made in July, Governor Greg Abbott in July ordered early voting start early, as response to the Coronavirus pandemic. Last month other Republicans -- including state party Chair Allen West, Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller and several members of the Texas Legislature -- challenged Abbott’s decision, arguing the action defied state election law, which states early voting typically begins on the 17th day before an election which would have been Oct. 19 this year. The Texas Supreme Court rejected the request to limit early voting on Oct. 7.

Texas Secretary of State Ruth R. Hughs encourages all eligible Texas voters to take advantage of the extended early voting period.

“As early voting for the 2020 general election begins next week, I urge Texas voters to set aside time to make all necessary preparations to successfully cast their ballot,” Hughs said. “We want to ensure that all eligible Texans are informed and ready to confidently cast their vote when they head to the polls.”

Hughs also reminded Texas voters to observe the recommended health care protocols.

Another change Bosque County voters might notice to this year’s election is the absence of the straight party voting option. House Bill 25, approved 88-57 in May 2017 during the 85th Texas Legislative Session, eliminated straightparty voting effective Sept. 1, 2020. Voters will have to select each of their party’s candidates one at a time on their ballots.

State Rep. Ron Simmons, (R-Carrollton), one of the authors of HB 25, said he filed the measure to foster more educated voters since they’d have to go down the ballot and make a decision on every race.

“I think it’ll give us better candidates and better elected officials. It won’t have people getting voted out just because of their party identity,” Simmons told The Texas Tribune on the House floor prior to 2017’s preliminary vote. Political pundits predicted House Bill 25 could have a radical affect on state politics because straight-ticket ballots accounted for nearly 64% of total votes cast in the state’s 10 largest counties in 2016.

Bosque County voters can vote early at the Bosque County Courthouse, 110 S. Main St., Meridian; and at the Clifton Civic Center, 403 W. Third St., Clifton.

Polling schedule for the Courthouse house is:

- 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Oct. 14; and Oct. 29;

- 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., on Oct. 15 and 16; Oct. 19-21; Oct. 26 and 27; and Oct. 30;

- 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., on Oct. 22 and 23; and Oct. 28; and

- 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., on Oct. 17; and Oct. 24.

Early voting schedule at the Clifton Civic Center is:

- 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., on Oct. 19-21; Oct. 23; Oct. 26 and 27; and Oct. 30;

- 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., on Oct. 22; and Oct. 28 and 29; and

- 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., on Oct. 24.

Deadline to request a mail-in ballot from the Bosque County Elections Office is Friday, Oct. 23 (received by the Elections Office, not post-marked).

“To vote by mail, you must first apply for a ballot by mail,” the Bosque County Election Office’s webpage states. “Bosque County does not send out applications or ballots without a specific request from the voter. HB 1927 allows the application to be submitted at any time in the year of the election for which a ballot is requested as long as it is submitted by the deadline for that election.”

Applications for mail-in ballots are available at the Elections Office, 104 W. Morgan St., Meridian; and online at webservices.sos.state. tx.us/forms.

Send applications for mail-in ballots to Bosque County Elections Administrator, PO Box 411 Meridian, TX 76665; or fax to the Bosque County Elections Administrator, (254) 435-2311.

Bosque County residents may also hand deliver their mail-in ballots to the Early Voting Clerk’s office on Tuesday, Nov. 3. Voters must present valid photo ID and sign a signature roster to do so. Anyone using a contract carrier should use Bosque County Elections Administrator, 104 W. Morgan St., Meridian, TX 76665. Applications can not be accepted by email unless it is an FPCA application.