AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — November’s elections are too close for Texas to make changes now and restore a straight-ticket voting option that was sought by Democrats, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday.
Most states don’t offer straight-ticket voting, which allows voters to more quickly cast a ballot by choosing a party’s entire slate of candidates with a single mark. Texas offered the options for decades, but Republican Gov. Greg Abbott signed a law in 2017 that eliminated the option starting this fall.
A federal judge in Laredo said in a ruling last week that the pandemic should give Texas pause about longer lines at polling places. But the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that changes shouldn’t be made so close to the Nov. 3 elections, and with early voting starting in Texas in just two weeks.
Democrats had sued to restore straight-ticket voting in March, citing long Super Tuesday lines in Houston where some voters waited more than an hour to vote. They said the law disproportionately hurts Black and Latino voters in big urban counties, where ballots are typically longer and take more time to fill out.
Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said “last-minute changes to our voting process would do nothing but stir chaos.”