Straight-ticket voting needs further fix for future elections

Casting a ballot in an election is an important opportunity for voters to help determine who leads local, state and federal governments. This year is a perfect example for Bartholomew County residents, as they will decide the county council at-large races and help determine Indiana’s next governor and the nation’s next president.

Because voting is important, the goal should be to make the process as easy as possible for registered voters. We’ve seen that evolve in Indiana as a change in state law now allows counties to use voting centers — open to all voters — instead of using the antiquated precinct system, which required voters to go to one specific location.

Unfortunately, those who cast ballots for the Nov. 8 general election may not find this year’s process as easy as before. A new law concerning straight-ticket voting has made the issue more confusing.

Anyone voting a straight-party ticket also will have to vote for individuals in at-large races with multiple candidates. No longer will a straight-ticket vote be applied toward candidates in those types of races.

The reason is understandable. Evidence showed that inconsistent categorizing of straight-ticket ballots by voting machine vendors raised questions of whether some tallies reflected the intent of the voters.

State legislators debated how to resolve that problem during this year’s session of the Indiana General Assembly. Scrapping straight-ticket voting entirely was debated, but the solution was an amendment by state Sen. Greg Walker, R-Columbus, which passed both chambers and was signed into law in March by Gov. Mike Pence.

While it’s an attempt to provide a solution,┬áthe new law would be best served sent to a study committee to look for ways to overcome the glitches and make the voting process less complicated.

Voting should be convenient and simple so as to encourage registered voters to cast their ballots and have a say in who will govern. However, the confusion voters could experience this year is more likely to dissuade people from voting, which would be a shame.