In over a third of the states in our nation, “straight ticket” voting literally means just that: The voter presses one button and has instantly cast their vote for multiple different individuals. Formerly a commonplace practice nationwide, only 15 states still allow single-button straight ticket voting. A bipartisan bill in the House of Representatives seeks to get rid of this practice, replacing it with the default voting option: choosing candidates individually.
The goal of the bill, H.R. 936, the “People Before Party Act” is to “reduce the role of partisanship in the voting process” according to a press release on Congressman Dent’s website. The authors feel that the ability for voters in these states — many of which have high numbers of electors such as Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Texas — to press one lever to vote for an entire party discourages voters from looking into the merits of individual candidates. Some partisan voters are more likely to press their party’s button than to think critically about each candidate.
While a voter could still vote for every individual Republican or Democrat, they would be required to indicate as such for each ballot position. Dent said that the legislation “will promote thoughtful decision making in the voting booth” through requiring their decision on each individual.