Texas was one of 10 states where 2016 general election voters could choose every candidate of a preferred political party with a single pull, punch or other action. About 63% of all votes cast by Texans were straight-ticket votes, almost certainly the highest rate among the 10 states.
Another 10 states have repealed the “single punch” option since 1992, including North Carolina, which eliminated it in 2013. In 2012, about 56% of all votes cast in that state were straight-ticket votes, which was second only to Texas. The 2016 general election was the first presidential election in decades where voters would be required to go through the ballot to vote for all partisan races.
One of the arguments against repealing a straight-ticket option is that it may cause voters to leave more races blank, either because they do not know the candidates or simply suffer “ballot fatigue.” A straight-ticket vote automatically counts for every candidate of that party unless the voter specifically overrides it with a vote for someone else in a race. There are no guarantees that a voter who would have voted a straight-ticket vote will vote for down-ballot candidates of the same political party.
We looked at the 40 North Carolina state house districts for which a Republican and a Democrat were on the general election ballot in both 2012 and 2016 for signs of such a drop-off in votes down-ballot.
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