An analysis from the Austin Community College Center for Public Policy and Political Studies (CPPPS) indicates ending straight-ticket voting will lead to voter fatigue and “roll-off” in voting, especially among minorities and older voters.
“Our research shows overall that repealing Straight Ticket Voting disproportionately adversely affects minority and older voters who have come to rely on this to expedite their navigating long Texas Ballots all their lives,” says Peck Young, CPPPS director. “Also, based on data from other states in a Presidential year, the drop-off — or as the report terms it, ‘roll of,’ — can be as high as 16.33 percent.”
The study examined the effect of straight-ticket voting in Texas on down-ballot contests and assessed how the elimination will affect future down-ballot contests in Texas. In 2017, lawmakers passed House Bill 25, which eliminates straight-ticket voting by the 2020 presidential election.
According to the report, in 2018, 67.49 percent of voters in Texas’ 48 counties with the most registered voters cast straight-ticket votes. Democratic Party straight-ticket voting is higher in areas with high levels of urban, Hispanic, African-American, and elderly voters.
District court and judicial candidates are expected to see the most significant impact. Voting predictions include roll-off increasing substantially in the large urban counties, which have the largest number of partisan offices on the ballot. Those counties include Harris, Dallas, Tarrant, Bexar, and Travis.
During the last Gubernatorial election, almost 62 percent of ballots in Travis County were straight-ticket, all the way to 77.2 percent in Harris County. In Harris County, Democratic candidates won all 35 district court contests.
The findings suggest casting a complete ballot will require more time and research, but contextual factors can reduce roll-offs. Those include contestation, electoral competitiveness, incumbency, and education.
The full study, written by retired ACC Government Professor Stefan Haag with assistance from Young and Dr. Jeff Smith of Opinion Analysts Inc., is available on the CPPPS webpage. To read more, visit austincc.edu/cppps.