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A change in election rules is expected to keep voters standing in line longer in November.

In past years, straight party voters made up a sizable percentage of the electorate around the state and Henderson County is no exception.

"They've taken away that straight party voting, so it is going to take voters longer to get through the ballots," Elections Administrator Denise Hernandez said.

In the last general election, in November 2018, of the 26,969 votes cast in the county, 18,052 were straight party. A total of 14,826 cast ballots for Republicans, while 3,152 voted Democratic. The remaining 74 votes were cast for Libertarians.

The Texas Legislature passed the law in 2017, but it was not put into effect until this year. The passage was in spite of complaints from the Democratic Campaign Committee who contended it will increase the wait at polling places and unfair to Hispanic and Black voters.

A Texas Tribune story said straight-ticket voting, "the option for voters to check one box to cast a ballot for every candidate from a single political party, is not available in most states, but it accounted for nearly 64% of total votes cast in Texas' 10 largest counties in the 2016 general election." 

States that still use straight ticket voting are Alabama, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Oklahoma and South Carolina.

Texans can still vote a straight ticket, but they have to do it by checking every box on the ballot. That will take longer to accomplish and lead to longer waits at the polling place.

Those who wish to avoid the election day wait will have the option of voting early. Hernandez said a special Saturday vote is set for Oct. 24 and there are 12 hour voting days set from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m., Monday, Oct. 19, Monday, Oct. 26.

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