Bexar County Democrat, Republican Party chairs share their thoughts about the recent straight-ticket voting ruling

Friday, a U.S. District Judge blocked GOP law eliminating straight-ticket voting

Straight ticket voting has become a controversial topic in Texas, causing months of friction between Democrats and Republicans.

BEXAR COUNTY, Texas – Straight ticket voting has become a controversial topic in Texas, causing months of friction between Democrats and Republicans.

The option of straight-ticket voting allows people to choose one party’s entire slate of candidates on a ballot, instead of selecting each candidate at a time.

Most states don’t offer it, but Texas has for decades. This year, Gov. Greg Abbott signed a law removing the option, and Democrats promptly filed a lawsuit.

On Friday, U.S. District Judge Marina Garcia Marmolejo, out of Laredo, blocked the GOP legislation, saying the main reason had to do with COVID-19. She said straight-ticket voting is quicker and allows people to get in and out.

Elections department leaving straight-ticket voting issue ‘up to courts,’ busy working 7 days a week, Callanen says

Bexar County Democratic Party Chair Monica Alcantara agrees.

“That is the easier way to do it. Of course, it does make it a bit safer, but if things don’t turn out the way we want it to, we still want to ensure that everybody is going out and voting regardless,” Alcantara said.

Still, she doesn’t see a point in removing the option.

“It doesn’t hurt anybody one way or another whether you vote straight Republican or you vote straight Democrat. So I’m just hopeful they can continue to do so,” she said.

In response, Bexar County Republican Party Chair John Austin released a statement saying in part, “I am surprised and saddened by Judge Marmolejo’s ruling blocking the elimination of straight-ticket voting for Texas. … The Texas state legislature passed the bill to change (the) law in the 2017 legislative session. Hopefully the 5th Circuit Court will overturn this ruling and with any luck Judge Marmolejo will remember that her job is to uphold the law, not legislate from the bench.”

Bexar County Elections administrator Jacque Callanen also commented on the decision, saying in a statement, “This matter is currently in litigation and the Bexar County Elections Department will leave it to the courts to make the final decision, as we focus on the upcoming election.”

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said his office is filing an immediate appeal, so it is still up in the air as to what options will be available when early voting starts Oct. 13.

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About the Authors:

Courtney Friedman is a KSAT anchor and reporter. She has an ongoing series called Loving in Fear, confronting Bexar County’s domestic violence epidemic. She's also covered Hurricane Harvey, the shootings in Sutherland Springs and Santa Fe, and tornadoes throughout Texas. She’s a California native and proud Longhorn who loves calling SA home.

Dale Keller is senior news photographer at KSAT-12.