Legislative Coverage

Six years later, lawmaker still trying to eliminate straight party ballot option in Utah

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Update: Rep. Arent’s HB70 to end the straight-ticket ballot option in Utah was advanced by the House Government Operations Committee on Thursday, Feb. 6, on a 7-2 vote – clearing its first hurdle at the 2020 Utah Legislative Session. 

(KCPW News) Ever since 2013, Milcreek Democratic Rep. Patrice Arent has been trying to enact a measure that would force residents to more carefully consider the votes they cast in elections.

Arent says straight party voting, where voters check a box at the top of a ballot saying they’ll vote only for candidates of one party, has caused confusion for residents. Some voters think that by ticking the box they’re simply affiliating with a party, she says, while others think they don’t need to look at the rest of their ballots, which might include nonpartisan initiatives or questions of judicial retention.

“The county clerks say they get people calling all the time [saying] they have made mistakes but it’s too late because their ballot has already been mailed in and counted,” Arent said.

The measure she’s been trying to get passed since 2013 would do away with straight party voting in Utah.

“It really doesn’t take much time to go through and look at the names and see who you’re voting for,” she said. “And so the idea behind this is to say ‘you can still vote for everyone in one party, you just have to go through and look at the names.'”

Last year, Arent says she came closer than ever to enacting the measure getting it passed from committee and out of the House.

Arent announced last month that she isn’t running for reelection and that this will be her final session. But before she retires from the legislature, she’ll try once more to eliminate single-mark straight-ticket voting in Utah.

“I’ve never had a bill that’s taken this long to pass and I really hope we can pass it this year,” she said.

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