Friday, November 26, 2010

Wentworth tries again to end straight-ticket voting

This Chron op-ed is spot TF on.

In an upcoming Texas legislative session where some form of a controversial voter ID bill is certain to pass, a couple of state senators have other ideas, valuable ideas, for electoral reform.

Sen. Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio, is not a person who gives up on a good cause even in the face of daunting difficulties. He's pre-filed legislation for the 2011 session designed to outlaw straight-ticket voting. SB 139 is Wentworth's third attempt to eliminate this dangerous practice.

In 2012 the Dems who couldn't be bothered to vote earlier this month, the flip-flopping and finicky Indies, and the once-more-snookered Republicans will again rise up and turn out to sweep the conservative trash blown in to the Capitols by the combination of Tea Party rabies and Obama apathy. Unless a GOP state senator can convince his colleagues to ban the straight-ticket vote, that is.

Wentworth is a too-uncommon voice of reason on the right.

Although Republican and Democratic apparatchiks opposed his legislation in previous sessions, Wentworth accurately noted of straight-ticket balloting, "It's not even in the parties' interest." The lawmaker cited Republican State Board of Education candidate Tony Cunningham as an example of the danger that looms with straight-ticket voting.

Cunningham won the GOP nomination in SBOE District 3 despite widespread reporting about his inability to discuss the issues and his dreadful lack of credentials.

"Tony Cunningham would have been an embarrassment to the Republican Party if he had been elected," Wentworth said. Fortunately, Cunningham lost in the general election.

Still, Cunningham — one of the least-qualified candidates ever to appear on the ballot - snared 90,999 votes.

"We're Texans. We ought to be more independent thinking," Wentworth said, noting that Texas is one of only 15 states that still allow straight-ticket voting.

Straight ticket voting has become the lazy, unthinking way out for "patriots" passing for much of the Texas rural electorate. "What, make me spend five minutes voting instead of 30 seconds?! That's un-American!"

At my poll I had a handful of straight-ticket Republican voters -- self-identified to me, the precinct chair, mind you -- come over and ask where the propositions were on the ballot AFTER THEY HAD VOTED. They were collectively so mentally challenged that they couldn't even figure out to ask the question beforehand.

I believe that's why the props were under-voted, and could very well be why Prop 1 passed. FTR Kuffner shows his math as to why he disagrees with this premise.

My state senator, similarly, is acting to make our voting processes more effective:

... Rodney Ellis, a Democrat, has prefiled the Voter Empowerment Package, which includes measures to designate every statewide Election Day as a state holiday, including primary Election Day; allows eligible residents to register for voting during the early voting period at polling locations as long as the eligible resident provides certain documentation; creates criminal penalties for certain deceptive or disenfranchising practices regarding an election; allows eligible residents to register for voting on Election Day at polling locations as long as the eligible resident provides certain documentation; and authorizes registered voters to vote by mail during the early voting period.

I'd go even farther than this and recommend instant run-off voting. More on that here, here, and here.

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