Straight Party Voting is a Step Back
Straight ticket party voting is a throw back to an era when many people really could not get enough information about candidates to make a sound decision, so they relied on a label to decide who to vote for.
Information is easier to come by now and if people want to learn about a candidate, all they have to do is take 10 seconds to do a name search and they can find out.
Let’s be clear: straight party voting is not about helping the elderly or handicapped, it is about helping the major parties and mostly in NM the Democratic Party. As a New Mexican who is actively involved with election and campaign reform focused on increasing voter engagement, I am opposed to straight ticket voting and am deeply disappointed our Secretary of State is pushing this reform. She is on the right side of many issues such as opening up primaries, rank choice voting and more, but seems blind on this issue.
No state has re-implemented straight ticket voting for over a decade. 6 states have eliminated this practice in the last decade. This choice is going backwards.
In New Mexico, the two major parties control who can vote in primaries, a taxpayer funded election. They control when you have to register to vote (a month before the primary). They control ballot access making it as much as 10 times harder for independent candidates to get on the ballot to give voters choice. They control much of the money that funds elections. They control how legislatures caucus (Nebraska’s legislature is non-partisan so there are no party caucuses). And by and large they have created this perpetual state of two warring factions that have grid-locked politics in America. Their power comes from these special laws that need to be dismantled, not bolstered.
The two major political parties have some great volunteers and I honor them. But, they are private organizations and have no business setting the rules of how campaigns and elections should be waged. That is the job of government.
Straight party voting is yet another attempt for a major party to try to give itself an unfair advantage when people want and need more choices on the ballot, not fewer. Let voters take an extra 30 seconds and make sure there is not an independent, Green, Libertarian or even a member of the other major party they might want to vote for rather than making it so easy to mindlessly push one button for 20 candidates. That is not voting, that is giving your vote away.
This Op-Ed originally appeared in the Albuquerque Journal on April 3, 2018
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