After remaining quiet on the issue during the recent legislative session, Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill into law Thursday that will eliminate the straight-ticket voting option starting in 2020.
Straight-ticket voting, the option for voters to check one box to cast a ballot for every candidate from a single political party, is not available in most states, but it accounted for nearly 64 percent of total votes cast in Texas' 10 largest counties in the 2016 general election. House Bill 25 removes the straight-ticket option from Texas ballots after September 2020.
Supporters of the bill say removing the option will force voters to make more informed decisions in individual elections, but opponents say the legislation will disproportionately impact minority voters. A federal judge found as much last year in Michigan, blocking a similar law from going into effect.
During the Legislative session, the measure from state Rep. Ron Simmons, R-Carrollton, drew strong opposition from Democrats.
Though the state does not collect data on straight-ticket votes cast, there have been generally fewer Republican straight-ticket votes and more Democratic straight-ticket ballots in Texas' largest 10 counties over the past four presidential elections.