KNOXVILLE — Students at Johnson University who wish to vote find themselves either heading to the polls today, voted through an absentee ballot, or heading back to their home state to place their vote.
These options allow for the student to be able to vote in whatever way is convenient for them, but the main factor is this: When that student takes their first glance at the ballot, they have to decide whether to vote straight-party or split ticket.
Straight-party, otherwise known as straight-ticket, voting is a method of voting that allows the voter to choose a political party’s entire slate of candidates at once. Moreover, people who vote straight-party trust in their political party choice enough to vote for every candidate in that said party.
This is in contrast to split-ticket voting, which requires the voter to mark their ballot by person rather than by party. The voter must think of who would better serve that position, rather than basing it off the party that the candidate represents.
“I think that if someone votes straight-ticket, then they haven’t necessarily done their research,” Bekah Owsley, a student at Johnson, said. “If you do straight-ticket voting, you might miss out on opportunities to know further about the issues you’re voting on.”
Owsley said that if people vote straight-party on their ballot, they are potentially missing the opportunity to support other party candidates who may be just as qualified.
Sarah Gammon also had some thoughts on the notion of straight-party voting.
“It [straight-party voting] bounds people to their party and doesn’t allow them to think of a specific person’s idea on an issue,” she said. “I can see why people would want to vote straight-party, for easier reasons, but it can tempt people to be more close minded, as opposed to the freedom that split-ticket voting can bring.”
Only 10 states offer straight-ticket voting. Those states include Alabama, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah.
Popularity in states offering straight-ticket voting has gone down tremendously over the years.
In an article about the rise and simultaneous fall of straight-ticket voting published by the magazine Governing, it states: “Five states have axed it [straight-party voting] since 2011, and there’s a federal push to abolish the option to vote for one party across the ballot.”
The common concern for keeping straight-party voting around is that it can encourage partisan polarization within the voting population. This breaks down to suggest that people will only vote for their party and not allow themselves to think in-depth about the issues on the ballot.
Voters will have to make the decision to either commit their ballot only to their party, or to base their vote candidate-by-candidate.