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Straight-ticket voting
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Live Mic: Ending straight-ticket voting choice was a mistake

This is an editorial piece. An editorial, like a news article, is based on fact but also shares opinions. The opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and are not associated with our newsroom. 

Most of the 510 bills passed by the Legislature this year went into effect on Tuesday, which included House Bill 70, eliminating the straight-ticket voting option in Utah.

That is a mistake.

About 30 percent of Utah voters have chosen the straight-ticket option — but no more.

I say voters should read through the entire ballot and educate themselves on the candidates and the issues up for a vote.

But it shouldn’t be the government or the Office of Election that removes that choice from the 30 percent of voters who have filled out their ballots that way in the past.

Ballots in Utah will no longer include a box that allows voters to select all of the candidates in one political party with one stroke under HB70. Voters will now have to go through ballot selections one by one instead, according to a report in the Deseret News.

Utah now joins 43 other states to end single-mark straight-ticket voting (STV).

House sponsor of HB70 is Democrat Rep. Patrice Arent who has been trying to eliminate the option of checking a box for straight-ticket voting on the ballot since 2013.

She says most of the voting in Utah is done by mail, which affords the voter time to research the candidates, races, and initiatives.

Voters miss the chance to vote for judges and constitutional amendments, she pointed out. Further down the ballot are the nonpartisan questions, such as school-board races, judicial-retention elections or propositions, and constitutional amendments.

I am a huge admirer of Patrice Arent, but her attitude and the attitude of the lawmakers — Republican and Democrat — who voted to remove this option from Utah voters is disrespectful and arrogant.

If you read between the lines of what she and other supporters of HB70 are saying is that you the straight-ticket voter are not smart enough to navigate your ballot.

You don’t understand that there are nonpartisan choices on the ballot as well.

So to the 30 percent who selected the straight-ticket option, the supporters in the Legislature and the governor who signed the bill into law are saying you have been an irresponsible voter.

Here is one lawmaker who does agree with me on retaining straight-ticket voting.

Republican Rep. Brad Daw of Orem was one of the two “no” votes on the House Government Operations Committee, which passed it on a 7-2 vote in the past legislative session.

“I see no reason not to give voters that option,” Daw said on Live Mic earlier this year. “We’ve always done it. It’s never been a problem. I don’t see that this solves anything by doing away with it.”

What about the nonpartisan choices down-ballot, such as initiatives and school-board selections? I asked Daw.

“If a voter isn’t going to look down the ballot, we got bigger issues than whether or not that box is at the top,” he responded.

 

Live Mic with Lee Lonsberry can be heard weekdays from 12:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app