Utah is the latest state to end straight-ticket voting, which means providing a single spot on the ballot for supporting one political party's entire slate of candidates.
That form of voting was once a big feature of American elections but has steadily lost support in recent years. The argument mainly espoused by Republicans, that participatory democracy is improved by requiring separate choices in each contest, has triumphed over the argument mainly advanced by Democrats, that speed and convenience at the polls will assure strong turnout especially in urban precincts.
Utah is the seventh state to do away with the practice in the past decade. With its switch, signed into law by Republcian Gov. Gary Herbert this week, just five states are expected to have the single-vote option this fall: Alabama, Indiana, Kentucky, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Michigan.
Everyone knows our political system is broken. Here's what most people don't know: We can fix it. Unbreaking America shows why nearly every issue we face as a nation is caught in the grip of corruption – and what we can do to stop it. At Represent LA Verkin's Unbreaking America Screening, you will:
- Watch Unbreaking America: Divided We Fall, the short film starring Michael Douglas, followed by a discussion about America's corruption crisis
- Connect with current RepresentUs members in the La Verkin, Utah area
- Learn how you can make an impact locally and nationally in the anti-corruption movement
Whether you're a longtime volunteer or brand new to the movement, this is the perfect opportunity to get informed and involved in Utah.
Beckerman is the founder of Open the Debates, a cross-partisan group that advocates allowing more third party and independent candidates to participate in campaign debates.
Are you sick of our political discourse yet? I know I am.
Are you tired of being trapped in a two-year vortex of nauseating presidential politics every four years?
For better or worse (okay, definitely worse), presidential campaigns capture the energy and attention of voters and leave us feeling powerless to fix a completely broken political system. Candidates that aim to fix the system — think John Anderson, Ross Perot, Ron Paul, Ralph Nader, Gary Johnson and Jill Stein — get shut out of the main conversation.
There have been countless efforts to hold the self-proclaimed Commission on Presidential Debates accountable to produce fair and inclusive debates. But it is a private corporation created by the Democratic and Republican parties, and it has the political establishment's blessing to maintain a duopoly on presidential debate participation. The courts, so far, have obliged.
If we are ever going to succeed at opening up the presidential debates to more voices and better choices, we need to do two big things that will take the decision-making out of the hands of some untouchable front-group for the two parties:
McReynolds is executive director of the National Vote at Home Institute, a nonpartisan organization dedicated to expanding voting by mail-out ballot.
During this year's state legislative sessions, we saw nice progress, but also a number of myths, unfounded fears and outright falsehoods about "vote at home" or "vote by mail" election systems, in which all or most voters in a state or county are sent ballots in the mail and not required to go to traditional polling places.
For starters, VAH critics often ignore the reality that all 50 states already use this voting method at some level (aka absentee ballots). And objections often get presented in a vacuum, ignoring how traditional "polling-place-centric" methods have major inherent disadvantages.
Polling-place-centric elections poorly serve millions. Think about older or disabled voters unable to get to the polls; rural voters far from a polling place; first responders whose schedules can be preempted; parents working two jobs; families with sick children; students and many others with real-life issues that prevent voting in a fixed place, within a limited window of time.
Polling-place models also suffer from execution problems that can disenfranchise large swaths of eligible voters, both innocent and not always so: missing power cords for the machines, malfunctioning machines, poll workers who forgot the keys, long lines where voters give up and go home, voters told their registration is not valid, voters without "proper" ID and polling places far removed from some communities.
But well-implemented VAH models enable all to cast their ballots on their terms and timelines, while providing more days and more ways to vote, including in-person options. And if a close election demands a recount, VAH systems have paper ballots for every vote cast.