Report: elderly and Texans of color impacted by repeal of straight-ticket voting

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — A new report out of Austin Community College Thursday predicts 16 to 17% of Texas voters in November 2020 will not fill out their entire ballot. It’s a side effect of 2017’s House Bill 25 which repealed straight-ticket voting in the state. The measure used to automatically select all members of a certain political party on a given ballot.

This will impact older people and people of color the most, according to the report.

The analysis came out of ACC’s Center for Public Policy and Political Studies. Peck Young heads the center and says voters will just get tired around judicial races.

“They’re used to walking in there and going, just a minute Mildred, (motions to punching a voting machine). I voted. Let’s go get some coffee. Now they’re going to be sitting in there going “oh wow – how many of these blooming people are there?” said Young.

His team looked back over 28 years of data on straight-ticket voting in Texas. The results indicate older, Hispanic, and African-American voters will likely leave more of their ballot blank.

“They don’t vote candidates. They vote brand. They vote party. Again, this is a detriment to Democrats in Texas because these people – especially Hispanics and Blacks – overwhelmingly vote democratic,” said Young.

By comparing the voting history of other southern states who repealed straight-ticket voting, Peck says the point in the ballot they’ll leave is when they get to the judges.

“It can impact the future of thousands of local people,” said Kathy Mitchell, from the criminal justice group Just Liberty.

She says the judges Central Texans elect will decide issues ranging from waiving fees for low-income Texans to implementing the new public defender’s office. These elections will impact everyone who enters the judicial system.

“To the extent possible, all the clubs and groups that endorse candidates should really go out of their way this year to find out what the judge-to-be’s philosophy is,” said Mitchell.

During the last few elections in Texas up to two-thirds of voters just chose a straight ticket rather than individual candidates, according to Young.

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