The Scourge of 'Straight Ticketers'
December 1, 2018 | View PDF
Straight-ticket voting enables a voter to cast all their votes for one party with a single mark at the top of the ballot. This duopoly party enhancing practice finally died in most States. Little surprise it remains in uncompetitive/ballot access blocked Alabama which will be among the last of seven States still suffering this practice when Texas (increasingly more a ‘battleground’ State) abolishes it for the 2020 election cycle. Texas will become the 15th State since 1994 to end this scourge, removing one weapon from the duopoly’s arsenal against more thoughtful and non-partisan voters, proven most distortive at lower level contests on the ballot - i.e., smaller more local races. In fact, our neighbor to the east, Georgia, eliminated straight-ticketing in 1994. Only Indiana, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Utah will share this shameful stage with us. Some lawmakers in Utah  had the courage to introduce legislation to abolish straight ticket voting but it failed to pass. One of the more notable recent successes was observed in heavily Democratic Rhode Island; businessman Ken Block, who lost his gubernatorial bid in 2010, spearheaded the drive to eliminate straight-ticketing from the ballot in 2014.
Leaders of Alabama's Democratic and Republican Parties sing their duet claiming they hear no calls for ending the practice. Of course they don’t hear…surrounded by sycophant political prostitutes and hacks who benefit as they further promulgate disregard (aided and abetted by poor jurists like Myron Thompson) for non-duopoly candidates’ and voters’ civil rights. About half of the voters who actually participated in Alabama's prior gubernatorial general elections [Bentley victories] cast a straight-ticket vote. Secretary of State general election reports for 2010 show 48% of the approximately 1.5 million Alabama voters used the straight-ticket bubble, where straight-ticketers about ‘cancelled each other out’ with 357,525 straight-ticket Democrat votes and 353,037 Republican. The 2014 general election data showed 50% of eligible voters who participated used the straight-ticket bubble; 316,551 Republican to 273,655 Democratic.
Lower turnout results were no surprise, where Democrats put inferior candidates (some in bed with Felon Hubbard, et al) on the ballot which didn’t allow non-duopoly party candidates to be printed on the ballot to increase voter participation. Increasingly more difficult for elections to communicate citizens want someone OTHER than the Democrat, who was NOT necessarily the Republican, some incumbents were reinstalled with small [in the teens] percentages of eligible voters. Then Speaker Hubbard welcoming the worst of the incumbent Democrats (finding themselves in trouble by the Blue to Red Kool-Aid flavor poison switch) exacerbated the problem. If more expedient to keep them in their current party instead of ‘Dial Time’ party switches and use the big govt. Democrat sycophant to introduce legislation for his desired redistributions from those least able to afford it, provide help with jury selection to avoid conviction, etc. was easily ‘dialed in’ and gerrymandered by Felon Hubbard to keep Republocrats in power. Does it really matter if the harm imposed by corrupt and/or incompetent incumbent extremists reelected (like State Sen. Dial or US Sen. Shelby these past decades) wear the Donkey or Elephant moniker? - the damage done is the same to productive citizens who bear the burden.
Understandably more (esp. those who are not recipients of the political theft) are losing respect for public servants determined by an increasingly more rigged system. Little mystery why big govt. swamp monster Trump howled for abolishing the Electoral College when it gave him the [Bush v. Gore] result he and his Hillary, et al friends did not like; even less mystery how the monster now shills for the Electoral College after giving him the desired result. Political swampers stand for no consistent principle - empowering govt. to advance their specific interest is their overwhelming motivation. Entertaining to watch how much this reality-star showman enjoys not having to deal with the political middlemen he used to purchase. I anger and frustrate most of my duopoly friends and associates openly showing lack of interest w.r.t. which party is installed under the current process. Get rid of protective ballot access laws, hyper-gerrymandering, 435 limit, straight ticket voting, etc. rigged system and I’ll start to care again about a result worthy of my efforts to fight for and preserve.
I’ve observed no one this past election cycle who has been a greater soldier in this regard than Frank Dillman. Frank is a Vietnam veteran who served us well and took his oath and duty seriously. In return, he expects his public servants to do their jobs well and not shirk their duty - Dillman has undoubtedly lived up to his side of the contract by any measure. As one of the non-duopoly candidates who suffered the scourge of straight-ticketers, I asked for his comments on the matter. “I did not lose to my recent opponent; I was sucker punched by Straight Party or Straight Ticket voting,” he said, “by those with the ability to color in one bubble and walk out of the polling center proudly wearing ‘I voted’ badge of honor and not know who or why you voted as you did.”
Elaborating on the ‘sucker punch’ description, candidate Dillman provided the following data to show his results exceeded most Statewide contested victors in the recent election in his county. Dillman earned 16% of Macon county participants’ Nov. 6th vote; Attorney General Steve Marshall (R) 14.95%, Chief Justice Tom Parker (R) 15.53%, Assoc. Justice Jay Mitchell (R) 15.85%, PSC Place 1 Jeremy Oden (R) 15.81%, PSC Place 2 Chip Beeker (R) 15.77%. The remaining Statewide victors were also close in exceeding Dillman’s 16%; Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth (R) 16.33%, 3rd Dist. Congress Mike Rogers (R) 17.14%, Sec. of State John Merrill (R) 16.32%, Auditor Jim Zeigler (R) 16.46%. Dillman summarized with, “Very probably, me being the first Libertarian candidate in Macon County history we did pretty darn good and the future is much brighter. This should give cause to my county’s ‘political fraternity’ that a good candidate at the right time would penetrate their control.”
I found Macon County’s 99.56% approval of unopposed candidates most revealing of the scourge of straight-ticketers non-duopoly candidates must overcome. 7,274 ballots cast was a better than expected turnout, but reported 89.46% Democrat straight-ticketers added to 10.50% Republican straight-ticketers
conveyed more information on the preferred duopoly party than preferences on any individual candidate(s). Still most (about 60%) registered voters in the county decided not to participate in this rigged system; I see no efforts on Goat Hill to increase competition to get more of these voters to participate and communicate specific non-duopoly preferences. No wonder why potential candidates for local/lower races don’t even bother to run and give non-participating registered voters someone else to consider.
Most cite Richard Winger as ‘the’ expert historian on issues of this sort. “Straight-ticket devices are very harmful to the nominees of minor parties and independent candidates," said Winger, publisher and editor of Ballot Access News, "Sentiment is running against the device.” Kay Stimson, Director of Communications for the National Association of Secretaries of State said, "The overall trend by state lawmakers in recent years has been to abolish it." Alabama is a relative newcomer to the Republocrat two-step, letting the corrupt Republican party back into our State without firing a shot instead of replacing the similarly corrupt (although different theft recipients) modern Democrats. It has become yet another backward State which flip-flops between the duopoly parties instead of replacing one of them. In spite of Stimson’s and Winger’s observations, Alabama saw 1.1 million straight-ticketers (about two-thirds) of the 1.7 million votes cast on Nov. 6th. This increase suggests things will continue to decay at the local level as results get more skewed to one party, about 66(R) to 45(D) straight-ticketers and politicians face even less discipline from Bentley’s/BCA’s ‘incumbent’ Republocrat reinstalled as our corrupt AG. The ballot box shows little promise to remove Arrington, Butts, Felon Hubbard, Hammond, Langford, McClain, Robinson, Siegelman, Spicer, et al type political hacks who will simply do the ‘Shelby two-step’ to the other party when the corruption is ripe.
Understanding the disproportionate impact straight-tickers impose on lower level/ local office contests, Indiana recently made an unexpected procedural change on their ballot requiring an individual vote in partisan at-large offices. Floyd County Clerk Christy Eurton asserted this compels voters to review the ballot for their candidate. Clark County Republican Party Treasurer Matt Owen said the best way to have settled any confusion was to “move-away from straight-party voting in the first place.” Some Alabamians argue for the convenience and time savings of straight-ticketing most notably in overburdened polling places like the Clarion box in my home county. Perhaps it is time to increase access to early voting so those who care more about their party can turn in their ballots to cancel out the other duopolist, still accomplishing their end of killing competition at the local level, but then are OUT OF THE WAY for other voters more likely to matter and communicate more information in the election result. Obviously no reason for straight-ticketers to wait till Election Day to gather the most updated info on the choices; nothing any candidate says will make a difference to these robotic voters. This will allow less wait time and better access for the thinking voters who may make a difference on the margin - esp. at the lower levels which often make a bigger difference to the quality of one’s quality life than DC and Goat Hill swampers.
One of the more interesting non-duopoly races this election was Craig Ford’s State Senate (Dist. 10) run as an independent. Ford earned a respectable 39% but was also plagued by easily duped straight-tickers lied to by the duopoly if a voter bubbled in for his candidacy (there was no Democrat printed on the ballot for this race) it removed their straight-ticket votes on the remainder of the ballot. This propaganda campaign was successful throughout Alabama in spite of Sect. of State Merrill’s best efforts to educate voters that in fact ALL the other straight-ticket votes are counted unless marked otherwise. Others have noted Sen. Stutts - R, Dist. 6 (considered by many political watchers among the most corrupt and reviled ‘public servants’ in the Alabama Senate) narrowly held seat with 50.85% on Nov. 6th; arguably a beneficiary of the straight-ticketer scourge currently skewed to red tics.
Incumbent John Andrew Harris’ late write in campaign for Lee County Commission (Dist. 5) was another one looked to for some relief in an uncontested race. Commissioner Harris (wisely it seems in retrospect) ran for Rep. Bandy’s vacated seat. Harris was among the first to put me on notice of OPS accounting fictions to hide Fuller’s giggin’ for dollars addressed in my last two November Alabama Gazette columns. Candidate Harris made this an issue running against Mayor Fuller last election cycle to be ‘steamrolled’ and vilified by the Hubbard machine. I applaud Harris' run for State Rep. 83 which diluted an Opelika city council member (who enabled Fuller’s Folly) and another machine candidate. This paved the way for a promising bright young candidate entrepreneur, Rep. Elect Jeremy Gray, who actually knows/understands how the real world works to win the run-off and later win in the General Election. This left Commissioner Harris as the incumbent in a write-in campaign against the Fuller machine candidate (his friend Richard LaGrand) who was the only name printed on the ballot for Lee County Commission District 5. Also, a victim of the duopoly’s misinformation campaign that a write-in vote would remove all other straight ticket votes and it seems some wrote the name and didn’t mark the bubble it is an amazing feat he did this well. If Commissioner Harris had won as a write-in, it would’ve been one of only four victories of this sort in recent memory.
Before closing, I must include some of the best quotes from soldier candidate Dillman. “Ask those voters who they voted for Governor or local county commission and watch for their blank stare trying to remember a candidate’s name.
Furthermore, ask them what was most impressive about the particular candidate and now watch their facial and body language! Partisan voting is chocking Macon County, state, and nation. Candidates refuse to attend forums for citizens to hear and ask questions but they are handsomely re-elected, the majority of the time with Straight Party Voting. Change never comes about with straight party voting, which is designed to favor the incumbent and is a disgrace to opponents who are honestly trying to toss out complacent career-minded public servants. The two major parties prefer SPV [Straight Party Voting] for their selfishness, tenure, power, and control. Reform is needed to ensure the best candidate is elected to office. I do not believe the best candidates are in office. Those among us who live the reality of taxation, zoning laws, governmental obstacles to establish small businesses, etc. are most often more qualified but are pushed aside because of ballot access laws and SPV.”
So if you want to continue being one of the many Republocrat straight- ticketers… at least take the additional seconds to mark each bubble to dilute votes of the dwindling thoughtful participant(s) who took the endeavour seriously enough to devote some time in finding the name of each candidate and learn a little about them. Consider it the price you must pay to protect your duopoly and keep destroying the meaning and Spirit of the ballot along with what it was designed to communicate. If it seems a high price, please remember all who died and sacrificed to make it happen - e.g. non-duopoly candidates like Mr. Dillman trying to bring some honest competition to this rigged system. This righteous man and the few courageous candidates like him in our State have earned your taking the effort to reject him specifically.
Postscript: many thanks for all the positive comments about Fuller's Folly in Opelika. As I type another column during the Thanksgiving holiday celebration of our blessings, I'm again reminded of the courage and wisdom recorded by Gov. Bradford in the Plymouth colony. Imagine if they'd not given up on their failed common storehouse generating the famine and misery they endured to assign property rights to one’s own harvest; we'd likely never know of their success overcoming more public interest rhetoric and theory to actually prosper in reality, securing God's blessings for themselves and their posterity. Liberty and property have a history of being a fertile environment to bring out the best in societies.
The rational forecast for our State in the years to come is we’re about to witness unbridled corruption like we’ve not observed since reconstruction with big govt./traditional Republicans now completely in power and undisciplined by a corrupt AG. Hold onto God’s Truth and Light as you celebrate the beginning of Jesus Christ’s path in this world during the Christmas season, understand the magnitude of the mission His Father set Him upon. If you truly believe and adhere to His teachings, it destroys the power of death and darkness in this world. Without this fear Rome’s (and the many leviathans to follow) ability to advance their despotic ends is thwarted. Jesus showed us the way - it is up to us to have the courage, faith and wisdom to follow. If we do not stand well against evil and corruption in our everyday lives, we are failing Him and the righteous efforts many suffered so mankind may not be compelled to endure the agony of Roman despotism again.