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Straight-Ticket Ballot Stays in Effect in Utah

A bill that would eliminate Straight Party Voting in Utah failed to pass out of the House Government Operations Committee today, despite a strong showing from public supporters.

Representative Patrice Arent wants you to have to look at every name on your ballot before you vote. She was sponsoring a bill that would have stripped the straight ticket option from Utah Ballots.

“Currently you can vote using one button or one mark and then vote for everybody in a party,” Arent said. “What this bill would do is say you have to actually look at every race and make a decision in every race. You could vote for everybody in a given party, but you would actually have to go through and mark those one by one.”

Arent argued before the House Government Operations Committee on Wednesday, saying the option caused too much confusion for voters.

“The would realize later they had missed…voting for nonpartisan races like judges, they had missed voting for propositions, they had missed voting for constitutional amendments,” Arent said.

Supporters from the groups Utahns for Ethical Government, Represent Me Utah, the Alliance For a Better Utah and from a University of Utah student voter registration organization lined up to testify in favor of the bill.

Karen Clark, representing the Conservative Utah Eagle Forum, was the only public detractor of the bill to testify at the committee meeting.

“They have vetted the candidates and agree with what they stand for according to the party platforms and they want to just go in and vote for those people that believe the same way they do and think the same way they do,” Clark said.

Representative Ken Ivory, Vice Chair of the Committee, read the outcome of the vote. 

“Okay the motion is four no, three yes with two absent. The motion fails.”

Arent says she’s disappointed by the outcome.

“Of course I’m disappointed. I would have loved to see the bill come out of committee. I think it’s great public policy – which is the reason Utah needs to make a change we are the only state in the west that did this in 2012,” Arent said.

There are those on the committee that think that its an advantage to have straight ticket voting with just that one vote as opposed to making sure that voters go through and look at every name on the ballot.