Another Democrat lawsuit to bypass Texas election laws has been blocked, effectively ending an attempt to revive straight-party voting for the November general election.

On Monday, the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals granted the state’s request to stay an order that would have suspended Texas’ law eliminating straight-ticket voting.

The order, issued late Friday by a federal district court judge, would have forced election officials in all 254 Texas counties to reprint paper ballots and reprogram electronic voting machines just two weeks before the start of early voting.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sought an immediate stay of the ruling while the state plans an appeal.

Straight-ticket or straight-party voting allows voters to select all of a party’s candidates on the ballot with one mark. November 2020 will be the first general election without that option since the Texas Legislature passed House Bill 25 in 2017.

Proponents of eliminating the straight-party option said it had resulted in voters skipping over important nonpartisan races and issues at the bottom of the ballot.

Only six states currently allow straight-ticket voting.

Democrats had argued eliminating straight-ticket voting would “confuse” minority voters, who “on average have lower educational attainments,” and create “long lines” that Democrat voters are less able to wait in than Republicans.

The plaintiffs also claimed the longer lines would increase voters’ exposure to the Chinese coronavirus, which would “disproportionately burden minority voters and voters who support the Democratic Party.”

In Harris and Dallas counties, which together account for nearly a quarter of all Texas registered voters, more Democrats than Republicans have used straight-ticket voting.

”The 2020 general election is already underway,” Paxton said in a statement commending the appellate court’s action. “Any changes to the process now could jeopardize the fair and accurate administration of the election.”

“Election officials across the state have taken the necessary precautions to ensure that voters can vote safely, and I will continue to protect the integrity of our elections,” he added.

The same district judge who issued Friday’s order dismissed a similar lawsuit in June, filed by the Texas Democrat Party and other Democrats.

In the refiled suit, Texas Democrats dropped out as plaintiffs, and the two national Democrat Party campaign committees were joined by the Texas Alliance for Retired Americans, a “constituency group” of the AFL-CIO union.

Democrats and their allies on the left have filed a series of unsuccessful lawsuits attempting to bypass the Texas legislature and undermine state election laws via the courts.

In addition to straight-ticket voting, they tried bring back rolling polling and overturn a Democrat-passed ballot-order law, challenge a long list of Texas’ in-person voting laws, and change or eliminate the state’s mail-ballot signature verification process.

Democrats’ biggest push attempted to expand vote-by-mail, a process more vulnerable to fraud and logistical problems than in-person voting, to all Texas voters. They filed two lawsuits—a state court suit they later dropped, and a federal challenge that was shot down by the 5th Circuit.

The Texas lawsuits are part of a nationwide litigation strategy by Democrats to use courts and fear of the coronavirus to undermine state voting laws, in hopes of gaining an edge in the 2020 presidential election.

With mail-ballot voting already underway and in-person early voting set to start in two weeks, courts are unlikely to approve any changes to the state’s election processes for 2020.

In-person early voting for the November 3 general election begins on October 13.

Erin Anderson

Erin Anderson is a Senior Journalist for Texas Scorecard, reporting on state and local issues, events, and government actions that impact people in communities throughout Texas and the DFW Metroplex. A native Texan, Erin grew up in the Houston area and now lives in Collin County.


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