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Bill looks to remove straight party voting option from Oklahoma ballots

Two voting stations in an Oklahoma polling location.
Xcaret Nuñez
Two voting stations in an Oklahoma polling location.

An Oklahoma lawmaker is hoping to end the practice of straight party voting.

Straight party voting allows a voter to select only a political party on their ballot and all candidates who are part of that party will get one vote.

Senate Bill 568, authored by Democratic State Senator Mary Boren looks to amend parts of Oklahoma law, removing the straight party option and updating language to be gender neutral.

Oklahoma is one of six states in the nation to still offer straight party voting,according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. The other states that offered it in 2022 included: Alabama, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan and South Carolina.

Recently some states have started to remove it from their voting process - including Texas, Utah and Iowa.

But having the option is still somewhat complicated. Some proponents of straight party voting say the option makes voting quick and easy, while some critics say that it discourages voters from researching individual candidates, but it can also confuse voters too.

That confusion can result in questions like: If I mark the straight party box - will that override individual votes I make? The answer for Oklahomans is that individual votes take precedence over straight party voting.

Despite the conversations about should we or shouldn’t we have it available - data from the state election officials prove that the option is still relatively popular for Oklahoma voters.

In the November 2022 election more than 40% of voters used the option.

This report was produced by the Oklahoma Public Media Exchange, a collaboration of public media organizations. Help support collaborative journalism by donating at the link at the top of this webpage.

Kateleigh Mills joined KOSU in March 2018, following her undergraduate degree completion from the University of Central Oklahoma in December 2017.
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