Utah lawmaker wants to end straight-party voting

Posted at 8:09 AM, Nov 22, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-22 10:09:15-05

SALT LAKE CITY — A state lawmaker will revive her bill seeking to end straight party voting in Utah.

Rep. Patrice Arent, D-Millcreek, said she will introduce the bill in the upcoming legislative session. It would eliminate the option for someone to just mark “R” or “D” instead of going through each name on the ballot.

She said banning straight ticket voting would be good for voters and candidates.

“Candidates are able to talk to the voters, voters are able to learn about the people running in their districts,” Rep. Arent said.

Straight party voting may be convenient, but it also causes confusion, Rep. Arent believed.

“I just ran into someone today and she said she was so thrilled and she voted Republican and she was glad I won,” Rep. Arent, a Democrat, chuckled. “I said, ‘No, you didn’t vote for me.’ She said, ‘Oh, I’m so sorry but I have to vote straight-ticket Republican and that’s what’s required.”

Rep. Arent quickly pointed out that registered Republicans are not mandated to vote for only Republican candidates, nor are Democrats required for vote for other Democrats. She also worried non-partisan offices get skipped on ballots when voters just fill out one bubble on the ballot and think they’re done.

43 other states have prohibited straight ticket voting. This year, Democrats made gains in Salt Lake County, which could be seen as a result of straight ticket voting.

“Both parties benefit from straight ticket voting in certain counties,” Rep. Arent said. “But that’s not what this is about. It’s not a good idea for anybody.”

Rep. Arent has run the bill since 2013, but she said members of the Republican majority in the Utah State Legislature have started to warm up to it. Utah Republican Party Chairman Rob Anderson said he is taking no position on the bill. The Utah Democratic Party said it was also staying neutral on it.