The 2008 General Election Ballot will get a new look if a bill requested by State Senator Kenneth Corn (D-Poteau) and State Representative Neil Brannon (D-Arkoma) makes its way through the legislative process in the coming session. The southeast Oklahoma lawmakers will file legislation that will end a 100-year tradition of straight party voting in Oklahoma.
“At one time when voters had limited access to information about candidates straight party voting served a purpose, but in today’s world when voters have access to instant information about each candidate, the need for straight party voting simply does not exist,” Corn, who serves as Majority Caucus Chairman in the Senate, said. “I truly believe that ending straight party voting will help spread the democratic process that is displayed throughout our country each time we as Americans and Oklahomans vote.”
Corn explained that in years past voters could make three marks at the top of their ballot and cast their vote for down ticket candidates such as legislative and local races. He said the system is flawed, confusing and often times leads to ballot errors and omission of votes on crucial ballot measures and non-partisan judicial races.
State Rep. Neil Brannon pointed to evidence from the 06 election cycle where in one county alone, out of almost 13,000 ballots cast, 4,318 voters did not cast a vote for the judicial candidate.
“Brave men and women have died for our right to vote in a democratic process and allowing straight party voting to continue hinders the very process our veterans fought so hard to protect,” Brannon said.
The bill has been requested in both the House and the Senate and both lawmakers expect the bill to be heard early in the 2007 Legislative Session that is slated to begin the first Monday in February.