Alabama House Democrats last week introduced a bill meant to bring an end to straight-party voting on election ballots in Alabama, a voting option only six U.S states still carry on the ballot.
“Existing law provides for straight political party ticket voting in general elections. This bill would eliminate straight political party ticket voting in this state,” the bill states.
House Bill 397, introduced by state Rep. Jeremy Gray, D-Opelika, and co-sponsored by 21 House Democrats, was first read on Feb. 10. The bill also includes a provision that would prohibit descriptions of proposed constitutional amendments on election ballots that “intentionally misrepresent the content of the proposed amendment.”
“Straight-party ticket voting has always been an issue that citizens have voiced their concerns about,” Gray said in an email to APR Wednesday. “Personally I feel like a true democracy embodies all citizens, and the straight-party ticket voting is not a representation of that. We leave out those population of people who identify with other parties besides Democrat and Republican Party.”
Gray said he believes HB397 will make it easier for candidates to run as independents as well as create a culture in which citizens are voting for “the best candidate, and not along party lines.”
Straight-party voting has steadily increased to over half of all ballots cast since 2012. During the 2016 general election, two-thirds of Alabama voters choose the straight-party vote. According to an analysis from AL.com of the 2020 general election, 67 percent of Alabama voters chose the straight-party option on their November ballot.
Straight-party voting is a common and popular option for both Democratic and Republican voters. The straight-party vote often affects lower-level state and local candidates more than federal candidates.
HB397 has been referred to the House committee for Constitution, Campaigns and Elections.