Texas Moves to End Straight-Ticket Voting

The days may be numbered for straight-ticket voting in Texas.  This week, the state Senate approved House Bill 25, which would end the practice of straight-ticket voting in the state.  Straight-ticket voting allows voters to cast their entire ballot for the candidates of one political party at the push of a button.  But the bill's Senate sponsor, Sen. Kelly Hancock (R-Richland Hills), amended it to take effect in 2020, in order to eliminate potential concerns about disrupting the 2018 election cycle.

Support for the bill has come down largely on party lines, with Republicans in favor and Democrats against.  Harris County GOP Chair Paul Simpson is among the supporters of ending straight-ticket voting.  "Voters now will have to vote for the actual candidates the way we expect it to work in a democracy, and that's going to result in a more careful selection of our elected officials...I think it's a good thing for Texas," he tells KTRH.  Simpson also believes this move is long overdue in the Lone Star State.  "Only 10 states still have straight-ticket voting...40 states don't have it, and since 1994 12 states have gotten rid of it," he says.  "So we're just catching up."

Democrats who oppose the bill argue that ending straight-ticket voting will suppress minority voter turnout.  But Simpson doesn't buy that argument.  "According to those Democrats in the Legislature, their own supporters don't know how to pick the candidates to vote for," he says.  "That's an insult to their voters, and they should be ashamed of that."

HB 25 now goes back to the House, which must approve the amended version passed by the Senate.  If that happens, it heads to the desk of Gov. Greg Abbott, who has not taken a public stance on the issue yet.

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