OKLAHOMA CITY — A state lawmaker has filed a bill that would eliminate straight party voting.
Sen. J.J. Dossett, D-Owasso, is the author of Senate Bill 9.
“I think it is unnecessary to have the straight-party option,” Dossett said Monday. “I think it is something that might have had value in the past when people couldn’t inform themselves on the candidate and vote.”
Ten states including Oklahoma offer straight-party voting, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The number of states offering it has been declining in recent years, according to the NCSL.
Dossett said it probably benefited Democrats when they were in power and now benefits Republicans.
His filing of the measure is not related to the recent elections, Dossett said.
In the Nov. 8 elections, 527,748 people went for the straight party vote, of which nearly 62 percent picked Republican, according to State Election Board figures.
On Nov. 4, 2014, some 282,578 picked straight party, of which 59.7 percent selected Republican.
On Nov. 6, 2012, some 500,484 went straight party, of which 56.4 percent selected Republican, according to state election board figures.
If an individual checks straight party at the top of the ticket and then picks a candidate of a differing party, the differing party candidate is what is counted, said Bryan Dean, a spokesman for the Oklahoma State Election Board. The rest of the selection will be read as straight party, he said.
Straight party voting has been around for decades, Dean said.
“I support straight party voting,” said Pam Pollard, Oklahoma Republican Party chairman. “There are a lot of people who want to identify with the Oklahoma Republican Party and are willing to cast a vote for all the candidates in the party and behind the party platform.”
Eliminating straight party voting could have helped Democrats 18 years ago, said University of Oklahoma Political Science Department Chairman Keith Gaddie.
The “straight party pull” used to be advantageous for rural Democrats who voted and walked out, Gaddie said. He said that he doesn’t believe the measure stands a chance of securing legislative approval.