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Straight-ticket voting may not be best option

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Amarillo, TX - When Texans head out to the polls tomorrow (Nov. 6), about half of them will probably cast straight-ticket ballots - but in doing so, you can actually miss out on some races.

Straight-ticket ballots vote straight down party lines, which in most cases, simplifies the voting process for the average voter, who probably hasn't followed every single candidate in every single race.

The advantage is that in today's political climate, party affiliations are generally very much in line with specific political beliefs, so voters don't need to be educated on all the issues or candidates, as Amarillo College social sciences professor Dr. Brian Farmer says,

"If you're a Republican and you check a straight-party ticket, it's highly likely that you chose the guy that's closest to what you think anyway; the same with the Democrats."

The disadvantage is in cases where one party has no candidate, as is often the case in a solid-blue or solid-red state, like Texas.

Farmer gives the example of the local race for District 13 U.S. Representative, saying, "The pitfalls - okay, I don't think there's a Democrat running against Mac Thornberry.  So if you vote a straight Democratic ticket, then you didn't even vote for somebody for Congress."

Texas is actually among only 14 states that still offer straight-ticket voting as an option.

And this is the first year New Mexico will not allow straight-ticket ballots, which Democrats in the state are suing to reinstate (see associated link).

If you'd like to read a Center for Public Policy and Political Studies report about straight-ticket voting or see the Texas Secretary of State's historical voting trends by county, follow the associated links.

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