How To Eliminate Straight-Ticket Voting
The straight-ticket, straight-party or master lever (just a line in Rhode Island) is an anachronism from long ago and its time has more than come to be eliminated. Each year, a bill is submitted to the Assembly to eliminate it, but you can probably guess what happens to the bill. Yep, held for further study.
Even the guy in charge of elections in the state, Secretary of State Ralph Mollis, is in favor of eliminating this option. But yet it stays. Why? Clearly it’s because it gives one side a huge advantage.
One example of this advantage is in the 2006 Governor’s race. That was the anti-Bush, anti-Republican election year and Governor Carcieri was one of the few Republicans to survive the figurative bloodbath. Democrats pointed to Carcieri’s weakness in that he only won by two points, 51-49%. However, when one looks closely, we see quite the difference in the straight ticket votes. Charlie Fogarty, the Democrat in that race, pulled in more than 70,000 straight ticket votes. Carcieri garnered 17,000, which is quite the difference. I’m not going to claim that none of those votes would have gone to the respective candidates, but not all of them would have either.
I’ll readily admit, the option would not change the result in most races, but there have been some that could have been changed. There was one in my hometown where even if you assume that 80% of the votes still would have been cast for the respective party’s candidate, the final result would have been changed. Interestingly, the winner in that race had even been bragging about his straight ticket votes advantage well ahead of election day.
So how do we eliminate this option? How do we get people to pay attention and agree it’s a bad thing? That’s easy. Just use it. Advertise it and use it. I mean all Republicans. If many Republicans were to connect that one line and tell everyone that it’s exactly what they did, it might be enough of a wake up call for the Democrats to start to think “Uh oh, they’re figuring it out!” and immediately look to eliminate this “advantage” that the Republicans have used.
So there it is. Republicans, Moderates, all parties. Use it. Tell everyone you’re using it. Tell all your friends what a great thing this straight ticket voting is. Go into the booth, connect one line and votes for everyone in your party! It’s easy, it’s fast, and there’s very little thinking involved. Connect the line.