Voting rules could soon change in Texas.
Voting rules could soon change in Texas.

Say Goodbye (Probably) to Straight-Ticket Voting

If you hate the spinning wheel of death that is the Texas voting machine, you're probably going to hate it more in 2020 if you're a straight-ticket voter and are now forced to individually select each candidate you want to choose.

That's what will happen if Governor Greg Abbott signs House Bill 25, which bans straight-ticket voting and which the Texas Senate passed Wednesday over objections from Democrats. The bill will head to the Senate's lower chamber for any additional changes before landing on Abbott's desk.

Dems had argued that removing the straight-ticket option would cause longer lines and wait times, deterring voters from going to the polls. They also argued Republicans had not considered any disproportionate impact this may have on minority voters. "Frankly, I don’t see any purpose for this legislation other than trying to dilute the vote of Democrats and, more specifically, minorities," said state Senator Royce West (D-Dallas), as reported by the Texas Tribune.

Meanwhile, Republicans said that eliminating straight-ticket voting would encourage voters to actually learn something about the candidates they are voting for and make more informed decisions at the polls. Voting for all Republicans or all Democrats will still be possible; it just might take some more clicks.

"Voting is one of the most sacred rights we hold as Americans," Senator Kelly Hancock (R-Northland Hills), the author of the bill, said in a statement. "While political parties are extremely important to our state, when voters cast their ballots, they are evaluating which individual candidate is best suited for a given job in government service. We vote for people, not parties."

Texas is currently one of only ten states that allow straight-ticket voting, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. That count also includes Michigan, where the state Legislature voted in 2016 to ban the practice; but a federal judge ruled that banning straight-ticket voting had a disproportionate effect on African-Americans. Michigan's appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court was denied.

According to the Tribune, on the Senate floor, Hancock downplayed the ruling and said all voters were considered in the bill.

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