Monday, March 16, 2015

Texas Republican legislators might get something right

But it's still embarrassing to read this account of the hearing given to the bill in the statehouse committee that would do away with straight-ticket voting.

Texas is one of only 10 states still doing straight-ticket voting but a North Texas legislator is hoping to change that.

At a hearing today, Rep. Ron Simmons (R-Carrollton) told the Elections Committee that doing away with such an option here would lead to a more informed voter and improve turnout in non-partisan ballot measure.

“The purpose of this bill is to increase the number of Republican elected officials thought out the state of Texas,” he halfway joked. “However I do believe the added benefit will be a more educated voter.”

But Glenn Maxey, of the Texas Democratic Party, said such a move could discourage voters.

“People are going to be standing in line for hours and hours because it’s going to take people not 10 minutes to vote but a half hour to do that kind of marking,” he said.

Glen Maxey is a man I used to have much respect for.  But after his shenanigans at the TDP's state convention last June, that all went out the window.  The point he is making here is that it's a tremendous inconvenience for Democratic voters to drag themselves to a polling place now, and this bill will discourage them further.  Horrors.  That's pathetic, but this is even worse.

Bill Fairbrother, of the Texas Republican County Chairman Association, said cost is a concern.

“Think of all the additional machines, clerks, polling places … That instead of being able to click one box to take care of those races, you have to go back and choose on average 25 separate races,” he said.

Perfectly ignorant.  There's no extra cost because there are no extra machines, clerks, or polling places needed.  None whatsoever.  There may be lines of voters waiting in GOP primaries, but not anywhere else, I can assure you.  I've voted early in every election and worked a dozen different polls around the city of Houston on Election Day, sometimes two or three in one day, for ten years now.  Only a few early voters, on weekends typically, at a handful of urban locations have to stand on queue for ten minutes.  (The one exception was the presidential election, primary and general, in 2008.)  At least Maxey's argument -- that it would take people more time to vote -- makes sense.

However, both Maxey and Fairbrother noted that within their parties, there was division as those in more rural areas favored the bill.

Ah.  Some small measure of bipartisan support for something at the Texas Legislature at last.

Meanwhile, independent voters testified in favor of the bill saying that if 40 other states have figured it out, surely Texas could too.

The committee took no action on the bill leaving it pending.  Dallas’ Jason Villalba filed a similar bill to eliminate straight-party voting in the state’s larger counties

If eliminating straight-ticket voting helps the GOP, as Rep. Simmons attests (joking or not), can Texas Democrats sue for voter disenfranchisement?  Because theirs are too lazy and/or stupid to mark a ballot 25 times -- or 50 and more in Harris County -- as opposed to once?

I'd hate to hear Chad Dunn have to argue that one before a judge.


Gadfly said...

Beyond that, so what if it DOES cost a bit more?

This is America, the alleged cradle of democracy.

Unknown said...

It's ridiculous to vote straight ticket in Texas anyway.

Consistently, throughout the time I've been voting, there have been 3 or 4 races in which there is no Democrat running.

Now, this seems like criminal negligence on the part of a "major" political party, but it also means that if voters don't at least go for the Green or the Libertarian in those races, they are voting for the Republican...

I don't understand how the Dems haven't managed, after all these years, to field a full slate of candidates.