Gov. Greg Abbott has postponed the May 26 primary runoff elections to July 14.

Holding the election in May “would cause the congregation of large gatherings of people in confined spaces and force numerous election workers to come into close proximity to others, thereby threatening the health and safety of many Texans and literally exposing them to risk of death due to COVID-19,” Abbott said in his proclamation (PDF). It “would therefore prevent, hinder or delay necessary action in containing the COVID-19 disaster.”

Abbott’s decision was telegraphed earlier Friday by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) during an appearance on the Mark Davis Show.

The Republican Party of Texas supported a delay “to allow for time to ensure that Texas voters and their votes are protected and safeguarded.” In a letter released publicly, the Texas Democratic Party said it wanted a process that “reduces the need for in-person voting and enhances Texans’ ability to vote by mail.”

The Democratic Party has since filed a lawsuit in Travis Co. (PDF) to expand ballot-by-mail voting, “instead of bringing our democratic process to a halt.” The lawsuit seeks to “allow any person who does not want to risk their health or that of their family’s [sic] during this coronavirus pandemic to vote by mail.” Specifically, the suit claims that Section 82.002, Election Code, already allows voters to cast ballots by mail “under the circumstances of this pandemic” and seeks a declaratory order.

The 2012 primary runoff elections were held July 31 after the primary elections, scheduled for March 6, were pushed back to May 29 as a result of redistricting litigation.

CD24: Rep. Julie Johnson (D-Addison) endorsed Candace Valenzuela in the Democratic runoff over Kim Olson.

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