OPINION COLUMNS

Welcoming the end of straight-party ballots

By Richard Greene | Published Saturday, October 26, 2018
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After weeks of reading endorsement columns, studying the League of Women Voters guide and doing some independent research on various candidates, I carefully went through the sample ballot again Wednesday morning.

Checking off each race, I filled out a cheat sheet for every contested spot. Arriving at the polls after showing my ID, I unfurled the green sheet of paper and started filling in the squares.

Richard Greene

At a deliberate pace, I carefully colored in each square, taking between 10 and 15 minutes to complete the ballot.

As I worked down the ballot, I watched others walk in the polling site and quickly leave after only a few seconds. Two spots down from me, I heard a woman ask her husband about the ballot. He quickly told her he was just checking one box and she could do the same. Almost as quickly as they reached the pens, they left. I guess they didn’t want to vote on the sales tax swap at the end of the ballot.

Upon leaving the polls myself, my first thought was “I’m glad that straight-party voting is about to be a thing of the past.” This will be the last general election with the option of voting straight party in Texas.

As a moderate that has voted for members of various parties, I’ve never been able to grasp how a person having a R, D or L next to their name meant they instantly warranted a vote. Also, I feel as good citizens, we should go through each race to make sure that candidate is the person we are comfortable with casting a ballot for.

Yes, the ballot may be long and turn into a test of endurance, but it’s a small price to pay for exercising this freedom. It’s not like we have to vote very often – at most five times per year if there are primary and general election runoffs.

Also with straight-party voting, important propositions determining how ad valorum and sales taxes are levied and used are ignored and determined by an even smaller portion of the electorate.

Lastly, an old argument of mine also resurfaced as to why local offices are partisan spots such as the county judge, sheriff, commissioners and justice of the peace. Partisan politics should not be involved in determining the county budget, repairing roads and running jail. All that should matter is who is most qualified for those offices. They should not be lumped in the presidential or statewide congressional races at the bottom of the ballot. They are too important and have a more direct impact on residents and voters.

As you head to the polls this week or Nov. 6, take your time to educate yourself and consider spending a little extra time in the booth. Even if you end up voting for all candidates from the same party, you can feel good knowing that candidate earned your vote.

Richard Greene is the editor of the Wise County Messenger.

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