Lawmakers Still Pushing To Banish Straight-Ticket Voting

Jan 14, 2016

Credit Sarah / https://www.flickr.com/photos/drivinginheels/

A group of Senate lawmakers aim to end straight ticket voting in Indiana, after failing to advance the issue last year. While the arguments around the bill haven’t changed, the measure’s advocates say they hope time will make a difference.

Straight ticket voting allows people to check one box on their ballot and vote for all members of one party.  Concerns about longer wait times at the polls led, in part, to the death last year of a bill eliminating the practice. But Carmel Republican Senator Mike Delph, who authored the bill last year and did so again this year, says there’s also political concerns at play.

“You know, I’m a Republican, I’m a conservative Republican; I support the Republican Party,” he says. “But competition makes the Republican Party better.”

He says straight ticket voting makes it easier for a party in power, in any given county, to stay in power.  Senate Elections Committee Chair Greg Walker says eliminating straight ticket voting also rankles older voters who don’t like changes at the polling place.

“But that argument never changes,” Walker says. “And I think, in terms of people’s expectations of what the polling place should look like, we’re doing other changes to kind of accommodate the times. To be honest, Indiana’s just one of a few states that still allows straight party ticket voting.”

The Senate Elections Committee took testimony on the bill Thursday. Walker says he’ll let committee members decide whether to vote on the bill later this session.