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Oklahoma State Senate
Communications Division
State Capitol
Oklahoma City, OK 73105

For Immediate Release: February 14, 2007

Senator Debbe Leftwich
Senator Debbe Leftwich

Bill Ending Straight Party Vote Heads to Senate Floor

Right now, Oklahoma is only one of less than a dozen states that still has straight party voting. Sen. Debbe Leftwich, D-Oklahoma City, is the author of Senate Bill 16 which would eliminate straight party voting in Oklahoma. That measure was approved Wednesday morning by the Senate Rules Committee.

“The problem is, if people want to vote straight party, they actually have to mark that option on at least two or three places on the ballot,” Leftwich said. “Unfortunately, a lot of voters just check it once and don’t even look at the rest of the ballot. Without realizing it, they leave the polling place without actually casting a vote in several races.”

Leftwich said a person could mark their ballot as straight party in statewide races, but if they didn’t mark it again farther down, no votes would be counted in local contests. In addition, many voters fail to realize that judicial candidates do not run as Democrats or Republicans, and fail to cast votes in those races.

“It is obvious that because of this confusion, some Oklahomans may be disenfranchised in elections,” Leftwich said. “It isn’t fair to voters, and I don’t think it is fair to the candidates.”

Both State Election Board Sec. Michael Clingman and Oklahoma County Election Board Sec. Doug Sanderson told the committee that straight party voting was confusing to voters. Sanderson said that confusion leads to portions of the ballot unintentionally being left blank

“I think this is something that’s purely nonpartisan,” Leftwich said. “I for one want to make sure that every person’s vote is counted, even if it’s not for me.”

The measure now moves to the full Senate for further consideration.

For more information contact:
Senator Leftwich's Office - (405) 521-5557

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