North Texas Daily

Where Texas will go without one-punch voting

Where Texas will go without one-punch voting

Where Texas will go without one-punch voting
May 29
23:03 2017

Amanda Dycus | Staff Writer

On May 18, the Texas Senate passed House Bill 25 with a 19-11 vote. This bill eliminates the voting button allowing automatic choosing all of Democratic or Republican candidates. It made partisan voting a no-brainer, and decreased the need for people to extensively research each candidate. To the majority of Texas senators, though, this was a problem.

The bill is intended to focus more on individual candidates instead of party affiliations, but opposition says that it will heavily influence the voting patterns of minorities, and those who need assistance in the voting booths. Yet there seems to be no immediate reason for assuming this will negatively impact minorities, and the bill didn’t come as a surprise.

Democratic opposition is quite possibly based on previous bills that have disenfranchised African-American and Hispanic voters in the past, such as voter ID laws and redistricting laws. But House Bill 25 on paper is fairly neutral.

Texas was one of the last of nine states in the U.S. to still have the single party selection button, according to the Dallas Morning News. To most senators, it was a simple bill, passed with good intentions but mostly to just get through the process and join the majority of the U.S. However, eliminating the button does not eliminate party loyalty, or the presence of straight-voting. It merely makes voting a little more time consuming for those people who go in knowing they will do so based purely on their party.

In the senators’ perfect world, getting rid of this button encourages voting based upon a candidate’s values and campaign promises. It could make local elections more impactful in people’s lives. Certainly after President Donald Trump’s election, opposition pressed the importance of local elections, saying that if we paid more attention to them, we would encourage better politicians to run for the presidency.

Yet local politics can be incredibly inaccessible. They are not covered on high-profile news stations and they require people to actively research candidates. Sometimes, this research may not even be possible, as many candidates are older and don’t have websites emblematic of their stances. Sometimes, the most you can know about a candidate is their name, party or slogan seen on the side of the road.

Some ballots also contain over 50 candidates, meaning voters have to go through and read each person’s name before voting, whereas with the one-punch button, voting could take five minutes or less. Small cities without the resources to multiple voting sites would also have to deal with the backlash of longer lines, so voters would have to wait longer to vote, and then it would take longer for them to properly vote.

The key thing to remember here is that this is not a new idea. Texas is one of the last states to ban this button and in the 41 other states, voters still show up to support their candidates. According to Rep. Ron Simmons (R-Carrollton), who authored the bill, North Carolina eliminated the button last year and there was negligible change in voter turnout.

The real issue is the accessibility of local elections. The one-punch button made local elections simple but now in Texas, they won’t be. It will be up to candidates to push their issues harder and be more approachable. House Bill 25 is likely to be implemented in September 2020, an election year, so political coverage will hopefully encourage voters to do their research – no matter the convenience.

Featured Illustration: Samuel Wiggins

About Author

Preston Mitchell

Preston Mitchell

Preston served as the Opinion Editor of the North Texas Daily from July 2016 to July 2017, and is a UNT graduate of integrative studies.

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