Bill of the Week: A Straight Ticket to Court?
Rep. Ron Simmons wants to end straight-ticket voting
House Bill 25 by Rep. Ron Simmons, R-Carrollton
The majority of Texans could be forced to alter the way they vote if HB 25 passes through both chambers. The legislation, authored by Rep. Ron Simmons and four House colleagues, would rid Texas ballots of the "straight ticket" option, which allows voters to easily choose all the candidates in one party down the ballot.
While it may seem relatively innocuous, the conservative-backed bill would disproportionately impact minorities, who more frequently opt for straight-ticket voting, as well as the disabled and elderly who spend more time in voting lines. Straight tickets made up more than 60% of total votes cast in the state's 10 largest counties last year. In Travis County, more Dems (35%) picked straight-ticket than Republicans (16%).
Critics say the proposed legislation could wind up facing a lawsuit over voting rights. Rep. Harold Dutton Jr., D-Houston, warned that if passed, HB 25 would be met with a court challenge "as a voter suppression bill." Support for the legislation comes from leaders in both chambers: Speaker Joe Straus and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick previously carried similar bills. HB 25 cleared the House along largely party lines and passed the Senate on second reading Wednesday. A third and final approval is expected before the end of the week.