Texas Election Results Highlight Need for Judicial Selection Reform

November 14, 2012

In Bexar County, the recent election has produced another wave of straight-ticket voting on judges. Texas is one of only three states in which voters can cast a straight-party ballot for all candidates, including judicial candidates. This year, Democrats won all but one of the races, but in 2010, a similar partisan sweep resulted in Republicans winning every contested judicial race in Bexar County. This phenomenon raises concerns that voting decisions are based primarily on party affiliation rather than on merit or experience, and that frequent turnover leaves courts staffed by individuals with little or no judicial experience. Bexar County’s 2012 judicial elections highlight the need for "a better selection process, one that includes merit rather than party affiliation, or at the very least ramps up the minimum qualifications for judicial candidates."