Elections 2020JudicialReimplementation of Straight-Ticket Voting Temporarily Halted by Court of Appeals

Just days after a district judge ordered the secretary of state to disregard election code, the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals overruled the order.
September 28, 2020
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After a stay was issued by the Supreme Court of Texas, the lower court’s ruling re-establishing Texas’ use of straight-ticket voting has been halted.

Last Friday, a U.S. district court judge ordered the secretary of state to retrofit all ballots and voting machines to allow for straight-ticket voting — the process of completely filling out one’s ballot for one party by hitting a single mark at the top.

That practice was done away with during the 85th Legislative Session, but plaintiffs led by the Texas Alliance for Retired Americans sued to reimplement it, alleging that the elimination would lead to longer voting precinct lines and thus result in an increased risk of contracting COVID-19.

An earlier lawsuit was filed by the Texas Democratic Party but was thrown out by the same district judge for a lack of standing.

The Fifth Circuit’s order is administrative to allow the court time to consider the case at large.

Between this, lawsuits over mail-in voting, and others over early voting, Texas’ chief elections officer — Secretary of State Ruth Hughs — is flushed with court orders left and right, making the path forward convoluted.

Voters will begin to cast their votes in 15 days due to the unilateral extension of the early voting period by Governor Greg Abbott, and the process for replacing already sent out mail-in ballots would not be a simple task.

Correction: An earlier version of the headline incorrectly identified the court responsible for the stay.

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Brad Johnson

Brad Johnson

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.