Let's straighten things out

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

This may upset a few people in Putnam County -- to be exact, 1,975 people.

To be even more exact, it may upset 1,650 Republicans, 324 Democrats and 11 Libertarians, according to results from the 2014 General Election. (Really, 11 Libertarians?)

It's time to end straight ticket voting in the state of Indiana. It's long past the time, really. Haven't we reached a day and age in which responsible, informed voters can be expected to consider each race and make individual choices?

Straight ticket voting had a time and place. There was a time when much of the electorate wasn't even literate, but still had the right to vote (and rightly so).

Instead of asking these folks to labor through a series of names they couldn't even make out, they had the option of just checking the box next to the elephant or the donkey or the mongoose to indicate the party they supported.

So basically, this is something that was useful back in the 1800s.

Do you think presidents William Henry Harrison, John Tyler and Zachary Taylor did a good job? Good for you! Just put a check next to this raccoon (I looked it up) to cast your vote for Millard Fillmore and the rest of the Whigs.

Fast forward to 2015 and we should probably have a little more faith in the electorate. Modern voting is a streamlined, technology-driven process that doesn't even involve handling an actual, physical ballot. An overwhelming majority of people can read and write and have the wherewithal to make informed, nuanced decisions.

Take the Greencastle city election that's rapidly taking shape. So far, 18 people are seeking the nine spots up for grabs. In each race, we will have Republicans and Democrats seeking office on the November ballot.

As I scan the list of names, I see lots of good candidates. I'm confident in the city's future if it's in the hands of these people.

Most importantly, my confidence is not limited to one party. I foresee a thriving, growing city over the next four years, one run by a group of people from both sides of the proverbial aisle (proverbial because there's no physical aisle in City Hall).

Indiana is one of only 12 states that still offers straight ticket voting, but that could be changing.

State Rep. Dave Ober, a Noble County Republican, has sponsored a bill in the Indiana House to end straight-ticket voting.

Pointing out technological advances and more information for voters, Ober believes it's time.

And it is time. If voters want more choices, then they should actively take advantage of those choices. Let's not be lazy.

Even if you still want to vote for only one party, I don't think we're asking too much for you to punch a dozen buttons instead of just one.

--Jared Jernagan