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Texas Bill to Exclude Judicial Partisan Races from Straight-Ticket Device

Published on December 5, 2012, by in General.

Texas legislators began pre-filing bills for the 2013 session on November 12, 2012. State Senator Dan Patrick (R-Houston) pre-filed a bill to exclude partisan judicial races from the straight-ticket device. Bills that are pre-filed do not yet have a bill number, nor is the text available on the state legislature’s web page, as far as is known. The Texas legislature convenes January 8, 2013.

One Response

  1. Jim Riley

    SB 103

    If you go to the legislature’s web page

    http://www.capitol.state.tx.us/

    And select Bill Search, you can set up a search based on topic (among other criteria). Be sure to set the correct session 83(R) – R is for Regular Session. You would probably want to set searches for all the Elections Topics. You can then Save the search.

    At a later time, you can Load the search and Run it, or modify it (such as to find bills assigned to committee, etc. or filed since a certain date) and Run it.

    Senator Patrick’s bill would continue partisan elections for judicial offices, but the party box at the top of the ballot would not apply.

    This could conceivably have an effect on the qualification of the Libertarian and Green parties who maintain their qualification on the basis of judicial races that the Democrats do not run a candidate in. But perhaps not that much.

    Currently, voting machines tell a voter if they have not voted in a race. But if they have voted a straight ticket, and there is a candidate for their party they aren’t told they did not vote in that race, because they implicitly did by the straight ticket box. The reason the voting machines in Dallas and elsewhere were programmed to handle straight ticket voting in the way they did was directly related to the fact that “Didn’t vote in this race” does not mean “Did not mark box for any of the candidates”.

    But if there is a race without a Democratic candidate, a straight-ticket Democrat will be warned. It appears that in a statewide race between a Republican and a Libertarian, that about 10% of Democrats will vote for the Republican, 30% will vote for the Libertarian, and 60% will skip the race. So this change won’t have an effect on qualification.

    If the legislature did what they should do and make judicial races non-partisan, it would likely have an impact on minor parties.

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