Senator refiles bill to end straight-ticket voting

  • No more straight party voting on Oklahoma ballots?

OKLAHOMA CITY – State Sen. J.J. Dossett hasn’t abandoned his effort to eliminate straight-party voting in Oklahoma.

The Owasso Democrat pre-filed Senate Bill 46 for consideration in the Legislature this year. He filed a similar measure in each of the last four years, as well.

Straight-party voting, also known as straight-ticket voting, allows a voter to choose a party’s entire slate of candidates with just a single ballot mark. A voter makes one mark or selection on the ballot in order to vote for every candidate of that party for each partisan office on the ballot.

Straight-ticket voting is a historical anachronism and Oklahoma’s statutory language is antiquated, Dossett indicated.

“When Oklahoma was founded more than a century ago, many voters were illiterate and perhaps didn’t have access to information about the candidates,” he said. Voters were “more isolated in 1907 and might not have known who the candidates were. So they based their selections on political parties and cast their votes on an emblem or a character: a rooster or donkey for the Democratic Party, an eagle or an elephant for the Republican Party.”

With the technology available today, however, “A voter can easily find information about any candidate of any political party,” Dos- sett said. A voter “should be knowledgeable about who or what is on the ballot.”

Besides eliminating straight-party voting, SB 46 would replace masculine language in the statute with neutral language. A voter would mark his/her ballot for:

• “the voter’s choice of candidates” rather than for “the party of his choice”; or

• for the “choice the voter” desires to select, rather than for the “answer he” desires to select, when voting on a state question.

Under SB 46, “You could still vote for the candidates of just one party if you want to,” Dossett noted.

He described SB 46 as a “voter modernization” measure.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, six states allowed or offered straight-ticket voting this year: Oklahoma, Alabama, Indiana, Michigan, Kentucky and South Carolina.