Judge cites pandemic in rejecting lawsuit over Texas voting

FILE - In this March 3, 2020 file photo, Democrat Jamie Wilson gets a sticker after voting in the Super Tuesday primary at John H. Reagan Elementary School in the Oak Cliff section of Dallas. A judge signaled Wednesday, April 15, 2020, he will allow voting by mail in Texas during the coronavirus pandemic, handing a setback to Republican state officials who have sided with President Donald Trump in their opposition to looser voting restrictions.

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Saying that voting is “wrought with uncertainty” this year regardless because of the coronavirus pandemic, a federal judge Wednesday allowed Texas to proceed with banning straight-ticket voting this November, dismissing a lawsuit brought by Democrats.

Most states don’t offer straight-ticket voting, which allows voters to simply choose a party’s entire slate of candidates at a stroke.

Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a law in 2017 to scrap straight-ticket voting starting this fall. But in March, on the heels of long lines snaking outside Texas polling stations during the Super Tuesday primaries, Democrats argued that forcing voters to individually select every race would create even longer wait times.

That would disproportionately impact Black and Latino community in big urban counties, the Texas Democratic Party argued, because ballots are already longer in those places.

U.S. District Judge Marina Garcia Marmolejo ruled that Democrats lacked standing to bring the suit but said that, regardless, “many Texans will endure longer lines at polling-places indefinitely" this year because of the pandemic.

“All things considered, in-person voting at polling-places is wrought with uncertainty," Garcia Marmolejo wrote.

Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said the lawsuit was based on hypotheticals and cheered the decision.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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