Advocates of a return to straight party ticket voting, abandoned by the state in 2007, made their pitch before the state House Committee on Election Law Tuesday. The measure would let voters cast a ballot for every candidate of a particular party in a general election with a single check. They could also vote for each office individually. Some saw it as a convenience for voters; others as an unnecessarily confusing complication to voting. Still others debated the place of straight-ticket voting in modern politics. “It is just a simplicity, a non-partisan partisan measure,” said Rep. Fred Rice, R-Hampton, a co-sponsor. “A number of voters go in and say ‘I know in advance that I want to vote for all one party or another;’ for them it is a convenience.”
Rice and another of the bill’s four co-sponsors, Rep. Jeanine Notter, R-Merrimack, said the bill would reduce lines at polling places, such as the lines said to have delayed the counting of ballots in many Granite State communities. The measure was opposed at Tuesday’s committee meeting by some lawmakers who saw it as creating confusion for voters casting ballots in state representative districts, in which more than one candidate is elected.
Supporters said the bill’s language provides that if a voter casts a straight-ticket vote, but then casts a ballot for a member of the opposite party, the vote next to the individual candidate of a particular party prevails.
Straight party ticket voting is allowed in 15 states, according to material from the National Conference of State Legislatures. One of the straight party ticket states, New Mexico, leaves it up to the discretion of its secretary of state, who broke with tradition in 2012 by not offering straight ticket balloting in the presidential election.