Ruling to end straight ticket voting appealed

Posted at 6:47 PM, Sep 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-29 19:47:15-04

Just two weeks until the start of early voting, U.S. District Judge Marina Garcia Marmolejo blocked the state from ending straight ticket voting.

Marmolejeo sited COVID-19 concerns as the reason behind her decision, which has been appealed by the Secretary of State and the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Straight ticket voting is when you vote for every candidate affiliated with your political party. Before 2017, the voting practice had been used throughout the state of Texas in previous years. However, for this presidential election in Bell County, officials are preparing for voters to cast their ballot race by race.

This potential switch up could cause some inconveniences.

"Just because of all the programming that we would have to get redone. We would have to get new ballots created as far as the PDFs that we would use to create those valleys," said Matthew Dutton, Bell County Interim Elections Administrator.

To prevent a complete restructure of the ballot, Dutton says to his knowledge, the state is fighting hard to have the changes, if any pushed, to a later election.

“We know that they’re appealing that decision and they’re asking for a temporary stay to where, you know, if any changes would take affect, it wouldn’t be for this election. It would have to be for elections after this one,” said Dutton.

“It’s hard to defend a major change to the electoral just before an election," said Dr. Jeffery Dixon.

The political science professor at A&M Central Texas says voters are known to make mistakes, so switching things up this late in the game would not be for the best. He also says though straight ticket voting could be seen as quicker, there is another side.

“It nationalizes, effectively, state wide and local elections by taking national party preferences and super imposing them on the local political scene,” he explained.

Dr. Dixon encourages everyone to look at a sample ballot. While Dr. Greg Newman, Medical Director of Urgent Care at Hillcrest, says when you head to the polls, treat it just like you would with any other public outing.

“The same precautions that you would be taking in public are the same ones you need to be having, especially because sometimes polling places can get a little crowded. So those people that are high risk should go ahead and take precautions just as if they were going to the post office or the bank," said Dr. Newman.

Dutton says for now they are operating under the assumption that the Secretary of State's appeal will hold so they can proceed on as they were.