Opinion: Stop voting the full party ticket



Elaina Sauber

Elaina Sauber

Elaina Sauber is a junior English major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].

This past Tuesday marked the end of the elections, as President Barack Obama was re-elected for another term. I went to my voting precinct earlier that day to cast my provisional ballot, and as I did so, I saw a number of smaller positions on the ballot, from sheriff to county coroner to school board officials.

As this was my first time voting in an election, I acknowledged that I had not done any research on the candidates running for these positions, and decided to abstain from voting for anyone I hadn’t done any research on — it seemed like the most civically responsible thing to do.

However, as I watched the election results unfold on CNN and Fox with a few friends, one of them told me that Jim Mueller, who ran for state Senate, was at his voting precinct where he personally thanked my friend for voting, and added, “Vote the party ticket.”

Myself being left-leaning, I asked what Mueller meant by that; I learned that many bipartisan voters simply vote for every Democrat or Republican on the ballot without knowing anything about them in attempts to make their party more powerful on every level of government.

Up until this point, I thought I was a Democrat, but this concept made me second-guess myself, because I cannot see how voting the party ticket is an example of educated, informed voting.

The two-party system has become more polarized in the last 25 years than ever before. The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press has been conducting political surveys from citizens since 1987 and has found that “the values gap between Republicans and Democrats is now greater than gender, age, race or class divides.” Instead of finding any kind of common ground, the two parties have grown opposed to compromise and obsessed with an “us vs. them” mentality.

Does being a Democrat mean believing all Republicans are greedy, evangelical, capitalist, racist bigots? Does being a Republican mean believing all Democrats are lazy, weed-smoking, pro-abortion welfare hogs? It’s generalizations like these that bring progress in this country to a screeching halt.

Voting the party ticket, as Mueller apparently put it, seems to encourage voters to stay loyal to their party without educating themselves about the candidates. Is a Republican county coroner honestly going to make life better or worse for anyone? No, because an individual’s political beliefs do not determine whether they are a good or a bad person.

It is our responsibility as voters to do the necessary research and educate ourselves about the candidates before we vote. Abstaining from voting for candidates we don’t know about is far less ignorant than voting for everyone in your party so the “other guys” don’t win.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t choose candidates with our same values to represent us. But it’s important to understand that the world is filled with a lot of stupid people, and it’s a mistake to believe that stupidity is limited to Democrats or Republicans. If you do your homework, you’ll find that it knows no boundaries.