The Elephant in the Room: Crossover Voting

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Crossover Voting Threatens Progress

A Ballot Marked by Revenge

Early voting continues until Friday, March 1, and Election Day is Tuesday, March 5. The Republican primaries are stacked with handpicked candidates from Gov. Greg Abbott and AG Ken Paxton. Why? These two are throwing tantrums after fellow Republican legislators voted to impeach the Attorney General and consistently voted against the Governor’s school voucher scams. Their vengeance takes the form of propped-up, right-wing extremists on ballots to unseat these incumbents, or by state leaders' name-calling, “RINOs” (Republicans in Name Only). 

Sitting representatives are facing targeted, malicious campaign contributions and public support for their opponents. This vendetta is bankrolled by billionaire bully, Tim Dunn, and Abbott himself has “spent about $4.4 million on mostly ads, polling and canvassing for those challengers. . . [making] up almost all of their campaign funding for the period.” Many Texans are fearful about what will happen if these “yes men” extremists make it to office. 

Crossing Party Lines

One particular note of concern is the trend of crossover voting in contested elections. Crossover voting “often involves voters affiliated with one political party voting in the primary of another political party to influence that party’s nomination.” Texas is an open primary state, so when you vote, you can choose between a Democratic or Republican ballot. Choosing another party’s ballot can be done in good faith (picking who you think will do the best job if your party is in the minority for example) or to sabotage (choosing a weaker candidate with the hopes it will make them easier to defeat). 

In the context of the March primaries, some voters, Democratic or Independent, might consider voting in good faith for Republican candidates who are less extreme. This is a type of crossover voting called hedging, usually involving relatively moderate partisans who try to avoid worst case scenario candidates of the opposite party. Knowing that there are people like Marc LaHood running (as the top beneficiary of the Governor’s giving), that's a fair motive, but you don’t need to cross party lines to make a difference.

How Does a Crossover Vote Impact Elections?

It doesn’t.

In fact, there is little evidence that crossover voting changes election results for primary nominations. The numbers for crossover votes are generally too low to influence results, as they aren’t part of a strategic movement, instead done individually at the polls. So, the results, and winning candidates, usually remain the same regardless of crossover votes to hedge or sabotage. Which, for sincere voters, negates the reason to vote against your own interests. That means fewer votes for the people you actually want in office, and a negligible difference for your opposing party. 

Moreover, voting for the Republican party deprives Texas of support from the National Democratic Party, as funds and boots on the ground are determined by how many Democrats vote in state primaries. You also lose out on the chance to vote for new, passionate candidates like Roland Gutierrez, Bill Burch,  Michelle Vallejo, Sam Eppler, Julie Johnson, and Laura Ashley Simmons who will make serious changes to our state regarding reproductive rights, gun safety, protecting public education, the environment, and more.

"Voting in the Democratic Party Primary gives you an opportunity to have a voice in our democratic process. We are who the people choose for us to be. Your voice is your choice." – Louis Bedford, Progress Texas Institute Board Member 

It can feel extremely disheartening to be a Democrat or Independent in our Republican-led state. However, we know that progress takes time, and we are already seeing progressive candidates join our leadership. The blue wave in 2022 will keep rolling on, and your vote should go to who you want representing you, because your interests matter and strong, progressive candidates can win Texan votes. Don’t let radical, right-wing billionaire vendettas overtake the importance of your vote for freedom-protecting leaders this election. 

What you can do:

  • Vote the most progressive candidates into office this year! Early voting continues until Fri. March 1, for the election next Tues. March 5!
  • Visit our handy (in English and Spanish) for more information on current elections!
  • Be an elections worker or poll monitor! Protecting elections is extra important with bad actors like Gov. Abbott trying to influence election results!