Wednesday, January 30, 2013

HB 258 update

Representative Patrice Arent's effort to ban straight party voting, HB 258, failed to move through the House Government Operations Committee today. The vote was 4-3 against the ban with two representatives absent. From The Salt Lake Tribune: Rep. Mike Noel, R-Kanab, said, "This looks like a bill looking for a problem. Voters are intelligent enough and can understand these ballots."

Yeas - 3
Chavez-Houck, R. (D)
Fisher, Janice (D)
Powell, K. (R)
Nays - 4
Draxler, J. (R)
Ivory, K. (R)
Noel, M. (R)
Perry, L. (R)
Absent - 2
Grover, K. (R)
Mathis, J. (R)

HB 258 Straight Party Voting Amendments

From Utah Political Capitol: Straight ticket voting is the act of checking a single box to vote for every single candidate of a particular party on a ballot. Representative Patrice Arent (D – Salt Lake City) will be directly tackling these issues with HB 258 – Straight Party Voting Amendments. The bill intends to remove straight party voting as an option on ballots.

Patrice Arent
Somewhat surprisingly, Arent's bill was approved by the House Rules Committee today and will move up to the House Government Operations Committee tomorrow. Kirk Jowers, director of the Hinckley Institute of Politics at the University of Utah, explains why straight party voting is a bad idea in this Deseret News article: "You don’t get to really look at other people running,” he said. “You just kind of walk in, punch it, and walk out without a lot of consideration, and it just doesn’t quite give the candidates their due.” He even goes on to say that straight party voting is often a way for a dominant political party (like the Republican party in Utah) to make that party even stronger. 

I agree with Jowers wholeheartedly, because I've seen that thoughtless voting he describes happen. In 2004, my husband and I went to vote at our local polling place. We were Republicans at that time. Yes, my first presidential vote was for George W. Bush. Oh, how things have changed. Back to the story: Even though we were Republicans, we were planning to vote for the Democrat candidate in the Salt Lake County Mayor race (Peter Corroon versus Ellis Ivory). I found out afterwards that my husband had marked Republican in the straight party option, thinking it was just a general question about what party you most align yourself with. Even though he marked Peter Corroon's box, his vote went to Ellis Ivory. Luckily, Corroon won anyways. Read the complete ballot, people!

The Deseret News article, written in 2012, explains that past efforts to ban straight party voting in Utah have not succeeded. Contact the members of the House Government Operations Committee as well as your representatives to show your support for this bill.