NEWS

Bill would end straight-party voting in Iowa

Measure clears House subcommittee, will be considered by full committee

Voters fill out their ballots at the polling place at Hiawatha's City Hall on Tuesday, November 4, 2008. (Cliff Jette/Th
Voters fill out their ballots at the polling place at Hiawatha's City Hall on Tuesday, November 4, 2008. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette)

DES MOINES — Iowa voters would no longer have the option of voting a straight-party ticket under a bill that cleared a House subcommittee on Tuesday.

Rep. Robert Bacon, R-Slater, said he supported the change because he is concerned voters who mark a ballot to support all the members of one political party may forget to turn the ballot over and mark nonpartisan candidates seeking local offices or board positions and judges up for retention.

Bacon and Rep. Jack Drake, R-Griswold, said they believed removing the straight-ticket option would clean up election provisions in the Iowa code. Bacon said Iowa is one of a dozen states that still offers the voting option, and it appeared the numbers “flip-flop” from election to election, so the change would not benefit one political party of another.

“I have yet to meet anybody who professes to vote a straight-party ticket,” he said.

Carol Olson, Iowa deputy secretary of state for elections, said 212,000 Republicans and 194,000 Democrats voted straight party in Iowa’s 2014 general election out of about 1.1 million participants. About 3,500 libertarians voted straight party and 83 independents chose the straight-party option.

Sen. Dan Kelley, D-Newton, declined to support House File 4, saying he had concerns removing the provision would cause confusion for some voters. He said Iowans currently have three options — to vote in person, via satellite voting station or absentee — and making the change would complicate a process that is working.

Olson said dropping the straight-party option could contribute to longer lines at polling places on Election Day.

The bill now moves to the full House State Government Committee for consideration.

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