The Journal Gazette
Wednesday, March 16, 2016 3:00 pm

Bill to end straight-ticket vote goes forward

Niki Kelly The Journal Gazette

INDIANAPOLIS – The House Elections committee voted 8-4 Wednesday to move forward a proposal that would eliminate one-button, straight-ticket voting in the state.

The vote fell along party lines with Republicans in support and Democrats opposed.

Under current law, voters can cast their ballots for all of one party’s candidates – Democratic, Republican or Libertarian – with a single click or mark.

House Bill 1008 would require voters to choose a candidate specifically for each office. Party identifiers would still be next to each name.

Rep. Dave Ober, R-Albion – author of the legislation – said in the last election, only one state in the top 10 in terms of voter turnout used straight-ticket voting. In the bottom 10 states – including Indiana – five offer straight-ticket voting.

No changes were made to the straight-ticket language in the bill before the vote. But the committee did add an amendment adjusting a few other things.

Another part of the legislation would allow a majority on a county election board to enact vote centers for a county. Now, all three members must be unanimous.

Vote centers concentrate voting in fewer polling locations, but voters have the flexibility to cast ballots at any one of those sites.

Under current law, there must be a vote center for every 10,000 voters. That would remain the same in a county with a unanimous vote.

But if a majority approves vote centers, it would say that any township with at least 5,000 voters must contain a vote center. Ober said that ensures geographic balance in a county.

Language was also added to ensure that Republicans will have delegates at the 2016 Republican National Convention. That event was moved to July, earlier than in previous election years.

But delegates are selected at the state Republican convention, which usually falls after that date. The amendment says a state chairman may appoint national delegates instead of them being chosen at the state convention.

"Nothing in this bill helps encourage voting," said Rep. John Bartlett, D-Indianapolis.

The bill now moves to the full House.

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