President Obama wants to cut voting time so long lines are eliminated, but Iowa's Peter Cownie wants to lengthen voting time by eliminating one short cut—no straight ticket ballots would be allowed.
Why not? Cownie says in his newsletter the current law “has fostered partisanship and created a less educated voter.” He does not say how the ballot “creates” these dumb voters, so perhaps he means only that it assists dumb voters.
He's more convincing about fostering partisanship. He says we are evenly divided between Rs and Ds and says we are one of only 15 states with straight ticket balloting. So is it caused in part by straight ticket voting? Is it bad to be evenly divided? Bad to be partisan?
Cownie seems to think so. But there is no straight ticket voting in New Hampshire, Colorado, Florida, Ohio, or Virginia, pretty partisan states judging from recent elections. There must be some other cause.
Or look at Rhode Island and Utah. Both have straight ticket voting like Iowa. Both are nearly one party states, quite different from Iowa's balance between the parties. Pennsylvania, Michigan, Texas, Kentucky—straight party voting states are a pretty diverse list. No pattern of partisanship that I see.
Cownie says curtailing straight ticket options will “create the expectation that Iowans pay their ballots the attention those ballots deserve.” He wants voters to “scrutinize each candidate a little more, understand them a little better.” If they do, he believes they “will find themselves making more informed decisions on their ballots.”
If Cownie wants more informed voters, why does he not respond to the issues survey at Project Vote Smart? They say
Peter Cownie refused to tell citizens where he stands on any of the issues addressed in the 2012 Political Courage Test, despite repeated requests from Vote Smart, national media, and prominent political leaders.
Filling in small circles for a dozen offices may not be tedious for young voters like Cownie, but for the arthritic or those with weak vision, the straight ticket option may be a godsend. It saves their weak hand muscles for all those judicial retention circles on the back of the ballot.
Cownie has not made the case for his bill. He offers no research on the topic even though he was asked to do so. Perhaps there is none available. Let's leave well enough alone.
Cross-posted at http://iowavoters.org/