Column: Straight-ticket voting offers advantages to all voters

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By KENT M. MOORE

Straight-ticket voting offers convenience to voters who prefer to vote for all candidates in a particular political party. It greatly reduces the time spent in the polling booth and helps contribute to faster moving lines. It permits citizens to vote the way we want to vote.

Texas Rep. Ron Simmons wants to eliminate straight-ticket voting because he believes voters are not educated enough about the issues and the candidates. In his column, he offered weak support for his arguments.

“When the campaign becomes about personalities and parties, the need to research and be educated on the platforms, records and issues of each candidate is obscured or overlooked entirely,” Simmons wrote.

That sounds nice, but in truth, political elections have always been about personalities and parties. Local governments do not want voters to debate issues because it divides the community. State government, with its lengthy two year cycle, is almost impossible to track. As last month’s Presidential election revealed, people use research to simply reinforce their own beliefs. They seek out sources to confirm the truth they want to believe.

Eliminating straight-ticket voting imposes a hardship on people who do not have time to study each issue. It would make it more difficult for people to make the free choice to easily vote for their party. Some people lack the capacity to study the issues. This limitation most often appears among the poor and among uneducated voters, but it applies to everyone to some degree. Straight-ticket voting offers everyone the chance to cast their vote, not just those who Republicans think are smart enough.

It is impossible to study every issue or weigh the merits of every candidate. Candidates and issues receive limited coverage by local, state and internet media. Moreover, people simply do not care about all issues. Politicians make it more difficult to learn about the issues. It is impossible to become educated when politicians avoid specific explanations.  It is easier to sway someone with “Make America Great Again” than to explain exactly how that is going to occur.

Simmons then argues that Texas should join 41 other states in eliminating straight-ticket voting. Actually, following the lead of 41 other states is like following the Pied Piper. You might like the tune, but you won’t like the ending. It is far better to measure the reasonableness of every issue instead of jumping off a bridge because others did. Twenty-eight states have legalized medical marijuana. Is Simmons suggesting that Texas should join those 28 states?

Simmons wondered how many people knew that his opponent was a Socialist. Worst case, one Socialist in the House would bring diversity of thought. No harm done there.  Having a House full of Republicans, and a Senate full of Republicans, and a Republican governor, and Republicans in the Executive, Judicial and Legislative branches of national government is a disaster. Why isn’t Ron worried about that?

Simmons wants us to eliminate straight-ticket voting because he didn’t like his opponent. That is a terrible argument.  Ron Simmons won his race 34,123 votes to 26,493 with 76% of precincts reporting. Would straight-ticket voting have affected that race? How many people voted straight-ticket? We don’t know. How many straight-ticket votes did Ron receive? He didn’t tell us.

He admits his bias in this matter. “I am confident that many votes were cast down ballot with little or no education by the voter.” He offers no research or proof that straight-ticket voting adversely affects the outcome of a race. He won though. Straight-ticket voting worked in his favor! He presumes to know how educated voters are. He offers his opinion, which is easily offset by a counter-opinion. Representative Ron Simmons has not made good arguments to support his proposal.

Ron Simmons wants us to care more about the issues instead of just focusing on the more popular candidates. I agree. He wants candidates to be required to “get out their message” and prevent them from benefiting from relying on their association with a political party. Unlike Ron Simmons, I live in the real world. Political parties exist because they are necessary and beneficial.

Candidates who are under-funded, who lack the means to “get out their message,” are going to lose to wealthy Republican candidates who often receive campaign contributions solely because of their association with the Republican Party. Do you see the hypocrisy here? He wants to rely on his opinion, but he wants us to become educated. He wants to retain his political association – but make it more difficult for the underdog to compete.

What this issue comes down to is this: Republicans want to tell Democrats how to vote, and they especially want to make it more difficult for Republicans to lose. It’s all about making the process of democracy more difficult for people who are not Republicans.

Simmons arguments are too idealistic and simply aren’t practical. People do not select candidates based on an educated understanding of the issues. If they did, they would never elect a Republican!

Simmons introduced a bill to eliminate straight-ticket voting once before and it died in committee. Not to be dissuaded, he has filed yet another bill for the upcoming 85th legislative session. What part of “No” confuses Ron Simmons? Take the time to contact him and let him know that we do not need Republicans to make it more difficult for citizens to vote the way we want to vote.


Counterpoint:

Column: Texas, it’s time to end straight-ticket voting

1 COMMENT

  1. Thank you Kent, I could not agree more. Simmons underestimates the public’s ability to understand the issues, and their desire to vote consistently for one platform.

    Of course, anytime a Republican wants to do something that affects voting, everyone should be highly suspicious. Repubs have a long history of voter suppression and causing voting complications.

    As you point out, there’s just no good reason to eliminate straight ticket voting, and I hope everyone will do as I’m about to do: contact Simmons and tell him to go pound sand on this one.

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