Partisan Voting: Yay or Nay?

Pennsylvania is the first state I’ve voted in where I ever recall seeing a button that will vote for all members of one party. In 2010, I was pissed off enough to use it. But this year, I didn’t press that button. Why? I still voted only for Republicans today, but I have decided after trying it that I really don’t like the concept.

Here’s a look at a ballot for a precinct near us and you can see the partisan voting buttons at the top:

I realize I’m overly idealistic in thinking that it would be nice if people were at least minimally informed voters in every race. The fact is that it just won’t ever be true. However, I don’t think that the state needs to make it easier for uninformed voters to blindly cast ballots. Perhaps not having a partisan button would make them hesitate before casting a ballot in a race where they admit to knowing nothing about the candidates, or perhaps even the office.

Most low information voters would still likely cast ballots for one party or the other, but at least they’d have to make a bit more of an effort. To me, it’s just a matter of making elections a little more principled and a little less about party politics.

10 thoughts on “Partisan Voting: Yay or Nay?”

  1. Imagine if there was no party affiliation next to the candidate names….

    In the 19th century, big cities in the East were so awash in illiterate immigrants that the Democrats made sure that party symbols were on ballots.

    1. As I recall either Massachusetts in the ’80s or Virginia in the ’90s and a bit beyond din’t list party affiliation.

  2. What’s the local newz saying? Will Romney be able to win outside the margin of fraud? Is the black panther still outside the polling place? How about a live blog on the results?

  3. They should make everyone register before every election, and then completely purge the rolls and start fresh every time. That would weed out at least half of the imbeciles.

      1. Those imbeciles would have the same opportunity to re-register as everyone else……

  4. Growing up in PA, my parents were involved in local politics and my mother ran for office several times as a Democrat in a 2:1 GOP county. Although I tend to vote straight Republican myself, it always drove me nuts when I’d hear people say things to her like, “I only pull the Republican lever.” or, “I can’t vote for you, I’m Republican.” At least in our county, it was the Republican party whose leadership taught people to pull the big lever. It always seemed like a lazy and asinine thing to do.

  5. I think I remember seeing straight ticket options on ballots before, but can’t be sure (it would have been in Massachusetts or New Hampshire, my past voting locations). On principle, I never hit the straight-ticket button, even though this time I did so manually (pressing each one). There is something I don’t like about pressing one button for all those votes, even if the result is basically the same. I can’t quite put my finger on what my issue with it is, but it’s there. Can’t do it.

  6. I’ve lived in Pennsylvania my entire life, and all but two years in the Army and four years when first married in the same municipality. It never occurred to me that not having the straight-ticket option might be the case in other states.

    My parents brought a lot of South Philly political lore with them when they moved to Bucks County, and found (at least, 60 years ago) that most of it still applied in Bucks County. A keystone of that was that if you supported political “friends” and their party, you could get a lot of valuable favors done. When I first started voting my father instructed me not to dawdle in the voting booth, because people would be watching, and it was vital to give the impression you were pulling their straight-party lever.

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