A U.S. District judge suspended the elimination of straight-ticket voting on Friday, blocking the implementation of a 2019 law which erased the practice in Texas’ election code.
Judge Marina Garcia Marmolejo ruled that the potential harm, such as elongated precinct waiting periods and increased exposure to other individuals, outweighed the logistical difficulties of changing the process this late in the game.
“[T]he Court finds that Plaintiffs have demonstrated a strong likelihood of success on the merits; that, absent an injunction, they face irreparable injury from HB 25; that the balance of equities support a preliminary injunction; and that the public interest supports a preliminary injunction,” the judge wrote.
Her order temporarily suspends the implementation of House Bill 25 passed during the 85th Legislature that set in motion the elimination of the practice. Should straight-ticket voting be eliminated, pursuant to HB 25, voters would have to cast a vote in each specific race, rather than selecting a party which then automatically selects the corresponding candidates in each race all the way down the ballot.
Marmolejo dismissed a similar case from the Texas Democratic Party back in June due to a lack of standing. But shortly thereafter, another suit was filed with the Texas Alliance for Retired Americans as a plaintiff.
Because retired individuals are likely more susceptible to the effects of coronavirus, Marmolejo ruled, the law eliminating straight-ticket voting should be suspended.
The case will be reviewed further, but for the moment, the secretary of state must work to fulfill the judge’s order, even though some mail-in ballots have already been sent out. Early voting begins on October 13, a week earlier than usual due to an order by Governor Abbott.
The decision will likely be appealed to a higher court, likely the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which could then issue an order suspending the district court’s order.
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Brad Johnson is an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad watching and quoting Monty Python productions.