No more straight-ticket voting in Texas rules appeals court

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Only a week after a federal district court in Texas blocked a law doing away with straight-ticket voting, an appeals court reversed the decision on Wednesday. 

That means no straight-ticket voting for 2020. Voters will have to go down the ballot and individually select their candidates instead of voting for an entire party.

“The district court ignores the fact that in June 2017, a majority of the Texas legislature—composed of officials elected by Texan voters to represent them—passed a law that ended the long practice of straight-ticket voting,” read the opinion by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. 

The appeals court also argued that election officials have already mailed thousands of ballots without straight-ticket voting: “The state election machinery is already well in motion.”

Democrats have criticized the straight-ticket voting ban law as a last-second election change that makes it easier for incumbent candidates to survive Election Day. 

Austin Community College study released last year found two-thirds of voters used straight-ticket voting in 2018, and an increase of 4 percent from last year. They argued and other studies have shown that voters will likely spend more time in voting booths and voting lines because they have to select individual candidates. The lack of straight-ticket voting may contribute to an increased drop-off in down-ballot races, particularly in the state’s large urban counties with long ballots that include many judicial races.

There is no evidence that straight-ticket voting benefits Republicans more than Democrats. In fact, Republican politicos have feared the law may actually backfire, but only Election Day will be able to deliver concrete evidence as to the effects of the new law. 

Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

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