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W.Va. Senate Repeals Straight Ticket Voting

Ashton Marra
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Senators approved a bill Tuesday that repeals straight party voting, a ballot provision that allows a voter to vote for all candidates from one party instead of considering individual races. 

Both Democratic and Republican Senators stood to speak on behalf of Senate Bill 249, some saying the elimination of straight ticket voting requires voters to consider each race rather than voting on a partisan basis. 

“I think it’s fair to say we have benefited from this over the past couple election cycles," Senate Majority Leader Mitch Carmicahel said, referring to the Republican Party's take over of the legislature, "but that’s not a reason to continue a process."

"It should be what is the right thing to do, regardless of partisan politics and regardless of who benefits from a particular method of voting.”

“I think it’s a silly bill," Democratic Sen. Mike Romano said on the Senate floor.

"I think we don’t give voters enough credit. What we need to do is find ways to encourage people to come back to vote not find ways to discourage them from voting.”

Sen. Herb Snyder said he had no strong position either way on the bill, but spoke passionately about another election related issue, campaign financing.

“So, this is fairly large step, but it’s not the big step, Mr. President. I want to remind everyone today that there’s a much bigger issue that this bill does not tackle, nor does the non-partisan election of judges tackle that issue, and that issue is the influence of money in American pokitics. The influence of money in American politics, where the voter becomes smaller and smaller and smaller and smaller in the shadow of huge money. A lot of it from PACS, out of state interests, just, it makes the voice of the average American citizen that much smaller. So, although many of the citizens of West Virginia may have an opinion about this bill, I would urge us all and particularly those in the majority party and those in Congress, Mr. President, to give the American people back their voice and mute some of the effect of that huge money influence on our elections because that is going to be a problem into the future as our voices as individual citizens in this state and in this nation are muffled by a blanket of election money.” 

The bill passed on a vote of 25 to 8 with one senator absent. Only Democratic Senators voted against it.

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