The Senate Business & Commerce Committee heard testimony on, and ultimately approved, a bill that would end single-punch, straight-ticket voting in Texas: House Bill 25 by Rep. Ron Simmons (R-Carrollton). It passed the House last week on a near party-line vote.

Sen. Kelly Hancock (R-North Richland Hills), the committee chair and bill sponsor, said voters typically do not research candidates beyond those running for the top offices when using the single-punch option. “Ironically, the down-ballot candidates that receive the least attention during the election are often those that affect voters most directly,” Hancock said as he presented the bill.

Representing the Texas Democratic Party, former Rep. Glen Maxey (D-Austin) testified against the bill. He called the bill’s referral to B&C, instead of State Affairs (where the companion legislation was referred), as “what the federal courts have noted as ‘abnormal legislative procedure’” in past litigation on Voter ID and redistricting. Maxey raised concerns that eliminating the single-punch option could “disproportionately negatively impact our minority citizens whose right to vote is protected by the Voting Rights Act and the U.S. Constitution.”

Jeff Blaylock, publisher of Texas Election Source, testified in favor of the bill. He agreed with Hancock’s statement that single-punch voting has the greatest impact on down-ballot races. Increasing rates of single-punch, straight-party fuel a “self-reinforcing cycle that drives down the number of choices that voters ultimately have in general elections,” Blaylock said. “In this past election cycle, nearly 90 percent of county offices were uncontested on the November ballot.”

Straight-ticket voting leads to self-reinforcing cycle

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