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Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R). Photo: Lynda M. Gonzalez-Pool/Getty Images

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) issued a proclamation Thursday requiring all mail ballots delivered in person to be dropped off at the one voting clerk's office designated per county for "enhanced ballot security protocol."

Why it matters: The order, effective Friday, closes any satellite offices, where voters would have been able to drop mail-in ballots.

  • Harris County, which has a population of 4.7 million people, has 12 drop-off sites. Travis County, which has 1.2 million people, has four offices.
  • The proclamation also allows poll watchers "to observe any activity conducted at the early voting clerk’s office location related to the in-person delivery of a marked mail ballot.”

What he's saying:

  • “The State of Texas has a duty to voters to maintain the integrity of our elections. As we work to preserve Texans’ ability to vote during the COVID-19 pandemic, we must take extra care to strengthen ballot security protocols throughout the state," Abbott said in the proclamation.
  • "These enhanced security protocols will ensure greater transparency and will help stop attempts at illegal voting.”

Go deeper

Georgia's early voting starts with heavy turnout

Voters wait in line to vote at the Buckhead Library in Atlanta on the first day of in-person early voting for the Georgia Senate runoff election. Photo: Jason Armond/Getty Images

Georgia's on an early path to a huge turnout in the two runoffs to decide control of the U.S. Senate, according to data from the Georgia Secretary of State's Office crunched by Axios.

By the numbers: Voters cast 482,000 ballots in roughly the first day and a half of early voting this week. That’s equivalent to one-third of the total in the last statewide general election runoff, held in 2018, and about one-fourth of the total ballots in the last Senate runoff, held in 2008.

Biden speaks with Macron for first time since diplomatic crisis

President Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron have a conversation ahead of the NATO summit in Brussels, on June 14, 2021. Photo: Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

President Biden on Wednesday spoke with French President Emmanuel Macron for the first time since a diplomatic row erupted over a scrapped submarine order, per the White House.

Driving the news: Macron said that the French ambassador will return to Washington next week and will resume working with senior U.S. officials.

2 hours ago - World

Scoop: U.S. and Israel held secret talks on Iran "plan B"

Bennett and Biden. Photo: Sarahbeth Maney/Pool/Getty Images

The U.S. and Israel held secret talks on Iran last week to discuss a possible “plan B” if nuclear talks are not resumed, two senior Israeli officials tell me.

Why it matters: This is the first time a top-secret U.S.-Israel strategic working group on Iran has convened since the new Israeli government took office in June.