Admit it: If you looked at that long list of court races on your ballot at all, you probably bypassed most of them.You might have known nothing about the candidates in the six statewide judicial contests. Maybe you saw that the 16 Tarrant County-based judges didn't have opponents.And if you chose the straight-ticket option for the races you most cared about, your vote didn't count in all the judicial contests unless you went Republican: Democrats ran in only one race for the Texas Supreme Court and one for the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals; libertarians ran for all six statewide court seats on the ballot, and Green Party candidates ran for two.Almost 8 million Texans voted in the presidential election Nov. 6, and 7.9 million chose a new U.S. senator. But the total dropped to about 6 million for four of the races for the state's two highest appeals courts.The other two contests -- Supreme Court Place 6 (retained by Justice Nathan Hecht) and the top spot on the Court of Criminal Appeals (retained by Presiding Judge Sharon Keller) -- exceeded 7.6 million votes each, but primarily because the Republican incumbents faced strong Democratic challengers.In Tarrant County, participation in the high court races ranged from 46 to 61 percent of registered voters (63.4 percent took part in the presidential election), but only roughly 39 percent of eligible voters cast ballots in the uncontested judges races closest to home.Results like those make it increasingly difficult to buy into the fiction that Texans want to elect their judges. Too many voters either skip down-ballot races or go straight-ticket, not scrutinizing the judicial candidates at all.According to the Tarrant County Elections Office, almost 58 percent of Republicans (233,598) and more than 41 percent of Democrats (166,916) voted straight-ticket this year. That means, for instance, that 70 percent of the Tarrant County support for Keller and Democrat Keith Hampton came from voters who didn't need to know a thing about their résumés.That's no way to choose officials who can change Texans' lives with their decisions.The Star-Telegram Editorial Board has long advocated a system of appointment and retention for Texas judges to get big-money contributions and some of the partisan politics out of the system.State Sen. Dan Patrick, R-Dallas, has a different proposal. He has pre-filed S.B. 103, which would do away with straight-party voting for judicial offices.The change would apply from Texas Supreme Court chief justice down through county probate courts and justices of the peace. All the judicial offices would be listed together in order on the ballot after other offices.Patrick and Jeff Wentworth, a San Antonio Republican who didn't win re-election this year, have proposed stopping all straight-ticket voting before. In 2011, Supreme Court Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson, also a Republican, embraced the idea for judicial races.Jefferson, who has also advocated merit selection, understands how disruptive it is when veteran jurists are replaced -- strictly because of political affiliation -- by newbies who must get up to speed not just on the cases but on how to be a judge.The most dramatic modern pendulum swing occurred in Dallas County in 2006, when Democrats replaced 42 Republicans, trading some highly regarded judges for inexperienced neophytes.In 2008, Harris County Democrats ousted 22 Republicans, but two years later the Democrats in contested district court races all lost. This time, Democrats held onto 14 of 19 district court seats on the Harris County ballot, and Republicans won most of the contested appellate court races, but just about every judicial race was a squeaker.It's not a stretch to be suspicious of lawmakers' motives on this one. Sure, they want voters to at least look at the names of candidates they're voting for. But politicians can also read handwriting on the wall. Inevitable pendulum swings can dent the number of offices their party holds.Axing straight-party voting in judicial races might slow down pendulum swings, but it won't correct bigger flaws in Texas judicial selection.