Appeals court says 'too late' to restore straight-ticket voting in Texas

Talk 1370 Newsroom
October 01, 2020 - 9:46 am

AUSTIN ( -- A federal appeals court has blocked the restoration of straight-ticket voting for the November 3 elections in Texas.

The Wednesday ruling by a three-judge panel on the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which followed an emergency stay issued Monday, cites the U.S. Supreme Court's "emphasis that courts should not alter election rules on the eve of an election."

The appeal follows a ruling by U.S. District Judge Marina Garcia Marmolejo of Laredo that would have required election administrators across the state to reinstate the straight-ticket option for an election season that's already well underway. Early voting is set to begin October 13, and thousands of absentee ballots have already been mailed across the state.

"The longer voters stand in line, the greater the risk that they contract COVID-19. Texans already wait a long time to exercise their right to vote," Marmolejo wrote in an order released last week.

Texas Democrats argued that the law disproportionately hurts Black and Latino voters in big urban counties, where ballots are typically longer and take more time to fill out. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton argued that "last-minute changes to our voting process would do nothing but stir chaos."

The Texas Legislature passed House Bill 25 in 2017 that eliminated the straight-ticket option, but a last-minute amendment in the final version of the bill delayed its implementation until the fall of 2020.

In the 2018 mid-term elections, two-thirds of Texas voters used the straight-ticket option.

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