CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Straight-party voting would no longer be an option in West Virginia under a bill moving through the state Senate.
“The right to vote is so important and this freedom that we have to elect people who will govern and represent us is so important,” said Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Charles Trump (R-Morgan, 15), one of the bill’s five sponsors.
“It’s not unreasonable to expect that voters should actually look through the ballot and consider the candidates in both parties, all the parties, for each office.”
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, West Virginia is one of 11 states still offering straight-ticket voting, also called straight-party voting. The others are Alabama, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas and Utah.
Straight-ticket voting has been declining in popularity nationally during the last decade. Rhode Island was the latest to eliminate the option with legislation that took effect this month.
“West Virginia is an outlier on this,” Trump told MetroNews “Talkline” on Wednesday. “We’re one of only a few states that permit a person to make one mark and vote for all the candidates in one party or the other.”
The proposal would prohibit straight-ticket voting on paper and electronic ballots.
Straight-ticket voting has longed been favored by Democrats who still hold a state majority in voter registrations. Yet Trump said he’s also hearing from Republicans who are against a repeal.
“There have been some concerns expressed because in West Virginia there were apparently more Republican straight-ticket votes cast in the last election than there were Democratic (straight-ticket) votes cast,” Trump said.
The Senate Judiciary Committee approved SB 249 unanimously during a meeting Wednesday afternoon at the State Capitol.