That’s how many choices some Texans make when they vote in November.
They head in to the polls, cast a straight ticket and are done.
“It’s a simple vote,” said Cal Jillson, a political science professor at Southern Methodist University. “You [choose] straight party vote and you walk out.
“A lot of people find a straight ticket vote to be the simplest way out,” he said. “You don’t have to follow the candidates closely or keep up.”
In fact, about three-fifths of Tarrant County’s voters cast straight tickets in the past three general elections. More of those were Republicans than Democrats.
Now members of both parties are encouraging Texans to again choose that option — which gives one vote to every candidate belonging to their political party — with the goal of helping all the candidates on the ballot.
“We need you to … encourage all of your friends and neighbors to show up and cast their straight ticket Republican vote because this election is about the top of the ticket all the way down to the bottom of the ticket,” Republican Party of Texas Chairman Steve Munisteri wrote in an email sent out this week.
Henry Cisneros, the former San Antonio mayor who served as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Bill Clinton, is among those asking local Democrats to vote a straight ticket.
In a robocall, Cisneros encourages voters to support Tarrant County Justice of the Peace Sergio De Leon in his re-election bid — “and the rest of the excellent Democratic ticket. Our children are counting on you.”
But in this year’s election, even those who choose this option will have more than one vote to cast.
There are a handful of nonpartisan issues on the ballot: local races, local propositions and a statewide proposition on transportation funding, said Frank Phillips, Tarrant County’s election administrator.
“We put city and school issues first on the ballot,” he said. “The reason we do that is because those would not be covered by a straight party vote.
“If they were at the bottom, … there’s a chance people voting straight party wouldn’t see those local issues.”
Early voting ends today. Election Day is Tues., Nov. 4.
In Texas, one of more than a dozen states offering the option of straight ticket voting, voters may vote straight party for Republican, Democratic, Libertarian or Green Party candidates.
In Tarrant County, more than three-fifths of the voters have voted by straight ticket in the past three elections — 65.35 percent in 2012, 66.16 percent in 2010 and 61.76 percent in 2008.
That number dipped to 49.2 percent in 2006, potentially because that election pitted multiple candidates in a crowded gubernatorial race — Republican Gov. Rick Perry, Democrat Chris Bell, Independent Kinky Friedman, Independent Carole Keeton Strayhorn and Libertarian James Werner. Perry won that year with 39 percent of the vote.
Before that, in 2004, 63.6 percent of voters voted straight ticket.
“It’s a really nice short cut for a lot of people,” said Matthew Eshbaugh-Soha, an associate political science professor at the University of North Texas in Denton. “People have fatigue and they will start to roll off the ballot.
“The straight ticket ensures that the lower ballot races — where voters have no idea who these people are — get some votes.”
Straight party opposition
Not everyone appreciates the straight party option.
Libertarian Kathy Glass — who faces Republican Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, Democratic state Sen. Wendy Davis of Fort Worth and Green Party candidate Brandon Parmer in the gubernatorial race — recently put out an ad encouraging Texans to avoid straight ticket voting.
“Voting straight party says you can’t think for yourself and trust a party to choose for you,” she said in her recent ad. “If any party thinks you’re in their hip pocket, you’re going to be sat upon.
“In the November election, think — and vote — for yourself,” she said. “Refusing to vote straight party says they can’t take you for granted any more.”
In the past, at least one lawmaker — former state Sen. Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio — has tried to pass a bill eliminating the straight ticket option in Texas.
He has said he wanted to remove that option so voters actually had to read the names of candidates on the ballot, instead of just checking one box to cast a straight party vote.
“If people want to vote for every Republican or Democrat on the ballot, that is their privilege as free Americans,” he has said. “What I want them to do is look at the name.”