Fifth Circuit OKs Texas Winner-Take-All Election System

NEW ORLEANS (CN) – The Fifth Circuit refused Wednesday to disturb the winner-take-all method long used by Texas and 47 other states to allocate presidential electors, finding the system does not unconstitutionally violate the one-person, one-vote principle.

The three-judge panel’s unanimous decision upholds Senior U.S. District Judge David Ezra’s 2019 order granting the Lone Star State’s motion to dismiss the electoral voting challenge brought by the League of United Latin American Citizens and nine Texas voters.

A man walks in front of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Jonathan Bachman)

Amy Mauser, an attorney representing LULAC, told the panel at oral arguments Feb. 6 that the current two-step voting process – where voters cast ballots for their preferred candidate in November, and in turn the electoral delegate goes to the polls in December and chooses the most popular candidate – effectively dilutes millions of minority votes each election cycle.

But Wednesday’s 11-page ruling found that the electoral voting method has been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, and at the appellate level dating back to 1969, and does not result in the arbitrary and disparate treatment of voters. LULAC also did not bring any claims alleging infringement of ballot access, or that any voters were deprived of voting for the candidate of their choice, the judges found.

“To the contrary, all votes were weighted equally, and all eligible voters were able to vote for their preferred candidates,” U.S. Circuit Judge Jerry Smith wrote for the panel.

Smith, a Ronald Reagan appointee, wrote that the organization presented no evidence to support its claim that the winner-take-all system incentivizes national candidates to ignore Texas voters and focus on swing states.

“Moreover, there is a critical distinction between a system that diminishes voters’ motivation to participate and one that burdens their ability to do so,” the ruling states. “Democratic elections necessarily result in winners and losers. The frustration of losing, however, does not violate the Constitution.”

Texas is one of 14 states to cast ballots in the presidential primary election on March 3, Super Tuesday. The Democratic National Committee on Tuesday added six states, including Texas, to its “Battleground Build-Up 2020” investment program, in yet another indication that the state and its 38 electoral votes are up for grabs in November.

A total of 270 electoral votes are needed to secure the presidency.

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