The House gave tentative approval to a bill that would eliminate the single-punch option to vote a straight ticket. House Bill 25 by Rep. Ron Simmons (R-Carrollton) was passed to engrossment (third reading) by and following a series of largely party-line votes. The nearly two-hour debate became testy at times as Democratic amendments limiting the bill’s effects were discussed and rebuffed.

Simmons accepted an amendment by Rep. Celia Israel (D-Austin), a member of the Elections Committee, to ensure that the Secretary of State’s office works with counties to ensure “voters and county election administrators are not burdened by the implementation.”

Reps. Harold Dutton (D-Houston) and Ron Reynolds (D-Missouri City) warned that the bill would end up litigated.

Texas is one of 10 states that give voters the option of using a single punch, mark or other action to vote for all candidates of a political party. Ten states have eliminated or stopped using straight-party voting since 1994.

A record 5.625M Texans cast straight-party votes using the single-punch option in 2016, corresponding to 63% of all ballots cast. More people cast a straight-party ballot in the general election than voted in the 2016 primary elections.

Note: Jeff Blaylock, publisher of Texas Election Source, is on record as being in favor of House Bill 25.