AUSTIN, Texas — On Friday, the Texas Democratic Party, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee announced they have filed a lawsuit over rules that allow candidates from the same party as the governor to be listed first on the ballot in general elections.
In a statement, the party called the law “arbitrary and unconstitutional.”
The move comes just days after Democrats filed a lawsuit over the statewide ban on “mobile” early voting sites.
Democrats claim the “first-listed” law, which has existed since the mid-‘80s, gives Republicans an unfair benefit in the 2020 elections thanks to “positions bias.” The last Democrat elected governor in Texas was Ann Richards in 1990.
“Elections should be fair and free,” said Texas Democratic Party chair Gilberto Hinojosa. “No political party should have an unfair advantage. There’s simply too much at stake.”
A similar lawsuit was filed in Florida last year, with Democrats there arguing the law gave Republicans an unfair advantage.
In Texas, only general elections must follow the “first-listed” rule, as primary and runoff elections have randomized ballot orders in each county. The lawsuit argues the same randomized system should be used in Texas general elections.
Studies have shown a candidate’s position on the ballot can impact vote share by as much as nearly 10%, depending on the race.
“As the 2020 election approaches, we’re challenging these unconstitutional provisions in states across the country,” Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chair Cheri Bustos said in a statement. “Voters have the right to be represented by public servants who were elected because of the merits of their ideas, not because they belong to the same political party as their governor.”
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