HOUSTON — For months, Republican leaders in Texas resisted calls by Democrats to allow widespread mail-in voting, more swayed by President Trump’s concerns about mail-ballot “fraud” than by the threat the coronavirus might pose at polling places.

The pandemic would have run its course by the time voting began, they believed. The election had been postponed, after all, and would not take place until long after Gov. Greg Abbott had embarked on an aggressive reopening of the state.

But the virus did not go away, and instead has surged in Texas, catching Mr. Abbott off guard. And as early voting began on Monday in statewide primary runoff contests, local election officials were scrambling to make polling sites as safe as possible.

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