Libertarian, United Utah Chairs Lobby Legislature to Eliminate Straight-Party Voting Option


Utah State Senator Dan Hemmert, Utah Libertarian Party State Chair Dr. Joe Buchman, and Utah State Representative Brady Brammer at the podium of the Utah State Senate Chamber.  (Note: Dr. Buchman ran as the Libertarian candidate for State Senate District 14 with (R) Dan Hemmert in 2016 and for Utah House 27 with (R) Brady Brammer in 2018.  He is currently represented, as a constituent in Alpine UT, by each of them in the Utah State Senate and House respectively.)

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HB 259 is a bill proposed by Utah State Representative Patrice Arent (D) and Utah State Senator Curtis Brammer (R) to “remove provisions from the Election Code that allow an individual to cast a vote for all candidates from one political party without voting for the candidates individually.”

The complete text of the bill can be found HERE.

During a hearing before the House Government Operations Committee on 20 February 2019 the following two of the seven chairs of qualified political parties in Utah testified in favor of the Bill – Dr. Richard Davis, Chair of the United Utah Party; and Dr. Joseph Buchman, Chair of the Utah Libertarian Party.  (Note: The Constitution, Democratic, Green, Independent American, Libertarian, Republican, and United Utah parties are currently qualified for ballot access in Utah.)

Audio of the hearing can be found HERE.

A transcript of Dr. Buchman’s remarks is reproduced below.

Earlier today the United Utah Party sent out the following email appeal.

“H.B. 259 (straight party voting prohibition) is coming up for a vote tomorrow in front of the full House. This bill will bring better representation of voter choices and will create a more educated voter base. It will bring Utah in line with 43 other states that do not sanction straight-party voting. H.B. 259 narrowly passed out of Committee 6-5, so your voice is really important.

“Please contact your House representative NOW (as in this evening) and tell him or her to vote YES on this bill. The best way to make that contact is by sending a text or calling. You may send an email as well but the other methods will be effective faster. And speed is very important.”

Dr. Buchman’s remarks follow.

Good afternoon, I’m Joseph Buchman the Chair of the Libertarian Party of Utah.  I come today to speak in favor of this bill.

Val (Peterson) it’s good to see you again.  I used to teach marketing back at UVSC (Utah Valley State College).

I come to you in part to admonish you that Utah is at risk of becoming the last state to maintain a rather archaic, dated, and I think somewhat embarrassing voting option.

As has been stated earlier, there are only seven other states that allow people to vote for a party and not for an individual candidate.  If the Libertarian Party stands for anything, it is for individualism.  We don’t want people voting for political parties, for platforms – we want them voting for individual candidates.

Those other states are Alabama, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Texas – which passed a law which will eliminate straight-party ticket voting in 2020.

I think the goal of each of us involved in political activity, and especially those of you who have been elected to serve, is to serve voters.

There are arguments that can be made that straight-party-ticket voting does serve the voter.  It  makes it more efficient, it’s less time consuming, it minimizes wear and tear on voting machines – and I think this was a major reason why this method was adopted by many of those other states which have since seen the wisdom of dropping it – it reduces time in line, reduces administrative costs, makes our poll workers work fewer hours perhaps.

But the nature of voting itself has changed.

Today voting doesn’t occur so much with those machines, in-person in a public space, but in the privacy of one’s own home where the voter has the opportunity while confronting their ballot, to pull up a laptop, look at the Internet, call a candidate, get their positions, take their time, and make a considered choice.

So those concerns about efficiency no longer apply.

I think this archaic, machine-driven option for relatively low-involvement voters should be eliminated.

I mentioned a moment ago that I had taught marketing down at UVSC and I don’t know what it means, perhaps I’m confused as a voter, to vote for a straight-party ticket.  Is the Republican Party the party of Mitt Romney? or of Donald Trump? or the party of Rand Paul? These are three seemingly very distinct political affiliations.  It’s the same with the Democratic Party; is it the party of Bernie Sanders or Joe Biden?  Or for those of you who might be Libertarian insiders, are we the party of Dr. John Hospers or Gary Johnson?

Each of these are very different political orientations that straight-party-ticket voting just completely bulldozes over. I think that is to the detriment of our society and to the voters involved.

We should be voting for individual candidates and not for parties.

I think it is time for Utah to avoid risking being the last among the states to continue to offer what is an embarrassing voting option. Of those states that I mentioned earlier, three or four  have legislation that may be passed in their legislatures this year, leaving Utah to be one of the last two or three, or perhaps even the last one left.

I’d like to not see that happen.

Thank you.

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