A U.S. federal appeals court in Texas has blocked a lower court’s order last Friday that Texas must allow straight-ticket voting in the November election.
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday ordered a temporary stay of last week’s lower-court order by U.S. District Judge Mariana Garcia Marmolejo.
Marmolejo blocked Texas from eliminating straight-ticket voting, a decision that would allow for choosing one party's entire slate of candidates in the November election with a single stroke.
Most states don't offer straight-ticket voting. Texas has for decades, but Republican Gov. Greg Abbott recently signed a law removing the option. That measure was pushed through by a GOP-controlled Legislature that argued the change would encourage voters to weigh down ballot races and cast better-informed ballots on Election Day.
Democrats sued over the change in March, pointing toward long lines in Houston on Super Tuesday, when some voters waited more than an hour to vote. They said the law disproportionately hurts Black and Latino voters in big urban counties, where longer ballots result in longer wait times.
Garcia Mamolejo said claims that voting machines couldn't be reconfigured so close to the Nov. 3 election were unconvincing, doubting it "will be as onerous as Texas claims."
The lawsuit was filed in federal court along the Texas border in Laredo. It was one of several voting challenges filed by Democrats in Texas leading up to November. Republican leaders have refused to expand mail-in voting in Texas during the pandemic. Next week, the Texas Supreme Court will hear arguments in a case that will determine whether Harris County can send mail-in voting applications to more than 2 million registered voters.