The Secretary of State’s Office (SOS) has told election administrators across the state that each entity in the city/school election can make its own decision to postpone due to the effects the coronavirus (COVID-19) has had on the community, and more importantly those who have filed for public office.

Cindy Richter, who is the elections administrator for Wharton County Elections, said she hopes to have responses from the City of Wharton, City of East Bernard, and the Wharton and East Bernard independent school districts next week.

“Each entity in the city/school election can make their own decision to postpone their election until the November 3, 2020 election day or not,” Richter said, quoting the SOS.

As of Thursday, March 19, Richter added that she has no information concerning the runoff election.

She responded to an email from the Wharton Journal-Spectator after she was told Gov. Greg Abbott was asked about it by pool reporters during his video conference in Austin on Tuesday, March 17.

Patrick Svitek, of the Texas Tribune, was in attendance as the Governor’s Office shared remarks about the election.

Abbott said “everything’s on the table” in regard to potential changes to the May 26 runoff elections due to coronavirus.

The question and answer is as follows: 

QUESTION: Are you considering any changes to the May 2 or May 26 elections due to coronavirus, such as postponing them or expanding vote-by-mail?

ABBOTT: “For the municipal ones, we are still evaluating that and we know we need to make a decision very swiftly. One thing that we are looking at, and that is whether or not the governor has the authority to make a decision on that. It may only be the municipalities which have the power to make that decision, and so there’s that legal issue that we are making a determination on. That said, if I don’t have the legal authority, we may provide suggested guidelines.”

QUESTION: Just to be clear, what exactly are you evaluating?

ABBOTT: “Under my 418 authority, I have the ability to waive and alter state laws, state rules and regulations. I don’t have the authority to alter municipal ordinances or waive them, et cetera. That pertains in hurricanes, that pertains to this also. So, this is going to be up to the municipalities to make their own decisions, but we may be offering guidelines on it.” 

QUESTION: What about the May 26 runoff specifically?

ABBOTT: “We are also focused on that runoff and we will be making decisions about that shortly. So, on that runoff, those are state elections, which I oversee in my emergency capacity, and so I will be able to make decisions about that.”

QUESTION: Is expanding vote-by-mail on the table? 

ABBOTT: “Everything's on the table.”

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