Gov. Greg Abbott recently resolved the future of straight-ticket voting in Texas when he signed a bill to eliminate the option, but the impact of the new law on future elections is far from certain. “It’s a fairly audacious move by Republicans,” said Rice University political scientist Mark Jones. “They may or may not benefit. They really don’t know.” Green Party and Libertarian Party members testified during a House hearing in favor of doing away with straight-ticket voting, while Texas Democrats strongly favor continuing the practice.
“There are already organizations and voting-rights attorneys who are going to be moving forward with litigation,” to oppose the new law, said Manny Garcia, Texas Democratic Party deputy executive director. “It’s possible that we would be a party to that.”
Jones said 3/5 of Texas voters cast straight-ticket votes in 2012, 2014 and 2016. “In many counties such as Harris, Dallas, Tarrant, Fort Bend and Montgomery, two out of every three voters now vote straight-ticket,” he wrote recently.
Texas Democrats have scored big wins for the party’s candidates in big urban counties that favor straight-ticket voting. But Republicans have enjoyed a robust Texas consecutive statewide winning streak starting two decades ago that Jones said would have been unlikely but for straight-ticket voting.