Straight-party voting in Texas is on the way out — for now. A bill outlawing the popular practice sailed through the House and is expected to win easy approval in the Senate. If one-punch voting goes away, voters will be asked to wade through ballots containing numerous candidates, many of them obscure. In 2014, Dallas County had more than 100 candidates on a single ballot. So, many voters chose to cast a single vote for all the candidates from the party of their choice. Repealing straight-ticket voting won’t have much impact on races at the top of the ballot. Voters across the state are generally aware and somewhat informed about the high-profile contests for governor and Senate. Even races like district attorney and county judge are in the minds of most voters.
But judicial contests and other obscure campaigns could be the most affected. Few voters are exposed to information about criminal justice candidates or other posts outside the political limelight.
“We’ll need to be vigilant in getting folks to the polls,” said Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas. “It’s going to require a different type of strategy.”
In Texas and other states, down-ballot candidates rely heavily on coordinated campaigns to push people to the polls. Voters are urged to punch the straight-ticket to get the party’s entire slate elected. Since ballots are so long, the choice is appealing for voters who trust their party and don’t want to spend a lot of time in the voting booth.