Commentary: State should correct straight-ticket fiction

This editorial appeared in the Charlotte Observer on Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2008.

Let's be clear: We don't endorse straight-ticket voting. We think every voter ought to choose the best candidate, regardless of party affiliation.

But we also believe that if a person wishes to vote a straight-party ticket for the Republican or Democratic candidates or any other party on the ballot, that voter ought to be able to do so.

In North Carolina, though, straight-ticket voting is a fiction, not to mention confusing. That's because the 1967 General Assembly, worried about the trend toward Republicans in presidential races, decoupled the presidential race from the straight ticket.

That means that if you support John McCain and the rest of the Republican ballot, you have to cast two separate votes – one for McCain and Sarah Palin, and the other for the rest of the Republican Party's candidates for U.S. Senate, governor and dozens more offices. Same for Democrats: It takes two votes to go straight ticket.

That quirky voting method may have helped keep Democrats in state and local offices, but it may also have meant that the votes of tens of thousands of North Carolinians weren't cast at all in presidential races because voters didn't realize they needed to vote separately for president even if they voted a straight ticket.

To read the complete editorial, visit The Charlotte Observer.