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Did Losing Straight-Ticket Option In Texas Lead To Fewer People Voting Down Ballot?

Polls in Texas closed at 7 p.m. and early voting results should be released soon.
Polls in Texas closed at 7 p.m. and early voting results should be released soon.

Straight ticket voting had allowed Texans to vote for all the candidates in their chosen political party in one fell swoop.

But that option wasn’t on offer in the recent election, the result of a law passed by the 2017 state Legislature that went into effect for the first time this year.

Some thought even more people would only vote for the top of the ticket without the straight-ticket option. The drop-off still happened, but less than expected.

“It just shows that there’s certainly more enthusiasm this year on both sides than there has been in [years] past,” said Brian Brown, vice president at RedRock Strategies, a Republican consulting firm.

As of Friday, about 11,231,000 Texans voted in the presidential election, according to totals published in the Secretary of State’s website. The U.S. Senate race garnered about 11,066,000 votes, a drop of about 1.5%. The drop off in voters from the presidential race to the Railroad Commissioner race was 2.7%.

In 2016, the drop off from president to Railroad Commissioner, the next race on the ballot, was 208,988 votes, or 2.3% of the presidential total. Straight-ticket voting still existed that year.

President-elect Joe Biden outpaced other Democrats who lost statewide races in Texas in both the raw vote totals and percent of votes.

“[Losing straight ticket voting] did hurt Democrats much more than Republicans,” Brown said.

Got a tip? Email Bret Jaspers at bjaspers@kera.org. You can follow Bret on Twitter @bretjaspers.

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Copyright 2020 KERA. To see more, visit KERA.

Bret Jaspers is a reporter for KERA. His stories have aired nationally on the BBC, NPR’s newsmagazines, and APM’s Marketplace. He collaborated on the series Cash Flows, which won a 2020 Sigma Delta Chi award for Radio Investigative Reporting. He's a member of Actors' Equity, the professional stage actors union.