St. Louis Oracle

St. Louis-based political forecasting plus commentary on politics and events from a grassroots veteran with a mature, progressive anti-establishment perspective.

Sunday, October 31, 2004

Why NOT to vote a straight ticket

This election has been very polarizing. Both sides of the political spectrum are highly motivated, more by hatred of the opposing side’s lead candidates than dedication to one’s own preferred candidates. In such a situation, it is easy to get carried away in the moment and be tempted to put an exclamation point on your vote by voting a straight ticket of the party whose candidate you want (or the major party opposing the candidate you detest).

That could be a big mistake. Both the Democratic and Republican Party tickets include candidates for whom there are very good reasons not to support.

One big reason not to punch the straight ticket choice at the start of the ballot is contests where an undesirable candidate is running unopposed. Once you punch the straight ticket, the only way to negate a vote for that party’s candidate is to vote specifically for a competing candidate in that contest. If the objectionable candidate is running unopposed (or faces opposition solely from a write-in candidate), the system allows no way to negate your vote for that party’s candidate. Principled voters should resist voting for an objectionable candidate just because the candidate is
certain to win.

For example, in the City of St. Louis, Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce is running unopposed on the Democratic ticket. Those opposed to the strong-arm roughshod politics of the Slay Administration should resist voting for Ms. Joyce, who is Mayor Slay’s closest political ally (not counting the mayor’s father, a ward committeeman). If you punch the Democratic straight ticket selection, there is no way to negate your vote for Ms. Joyce.

Ballwin area Republicans should eschew the straight-ticket punch to avoid voting for unopposed State Rep. Charles Portwood (District 92), currently facing multiple charges involving driving under the influence.

In other contests, it is important to review each contest to insure that every candidate you vote for really deserves your vote. On the Democratic ticket in the City of St. Louis, the poster boy against straight-ticket voting is Sheriff Jim Murphy, whose incompetent and racially insensitive mishandling of his office is an embarrassment to the whole region. His only opponent is Green Party nominee Don DeVivo, who has the endorsement of the Arch City Chronicle and the League of Pissed Off Voters.

In the contest for Lieutenant Governor, serious progressives and those favoring full electoral choice should avoid voting for Democrat Bekki Cook. As secretary of state in 2000, she abused the power of her office by making up a new eligibility rule on the spot to keep Mary Ann McGivern off the ballot as the Green Party nominee for attorney general. Cook’s own official web site had listed the qualifications for the office, and the ground Cook used to justify her action wasn’t even listed on her own site. Her partisan action effectively prevented the Green Party from winning statewide ballot access that year. While her Republican opponent, Senate Majority Leader Peter Kinder, may be equally undeserving of our votes, Libertarian Mike Ferguson is an excellent choice. Abstaining from that contest is also plausible, but that’s not possible if you punch any party’s straight ticket.

For state treasurer, much has been made of Republican Sarah Steelman’s role in getting the constitutional amendment restricting the definition of marriage on the ballot, as well as her position against abortion rights, but her Democratic opponent, Arnold Mayor Mark Powell, is also anti-choice and anti-gay, so those issues are a wash. Make a serious selection or consider abstaining.

No progressive should seriously consider re-electing Democrat Jay Nixon, best known for his opposition to school desegregation and support for the death penalty. Nixon is a lock to be the Democratic Party’s leading vote-getter this election, but that doesn’t mean we have to be part of it. This is an excellent contest in which to abstain, but that’s not possible if you punch a straight ticket.

Progressives should consider withholding their votes from anti-choice Democrats, who are plentiful in southern regions of the metropolitan area. They include State Sen. Harry Kennedy (1st District, where a pro-choice Green Party candidate, David Sladky, is available) and State Reps. Fred Kratky (District 65), Michael Vogt (District 66), Mike Daus, (District 67, where a pro-choice Libertarian candidate, Leonora Kham, is available), Pat Yaeger (District 96) and Sue Schoemehl (District 100).

While Republicans have done a better job weeding out true embarrassments than in past years, caution against straight-ticket voting also applies to them. Notably they should send a message to perennial 3rd District congressional candidate Bill Federer that his intolerant extremism is an embarrassment to the party. In case Democrat Russ “Dim Bulb” Carnahan and two third-party candidates are unappealing alternatives, Joe Badaracco, former Republican president of the board of aldermen, has filed as a write-in candidate. The contest is not realistically in play, thanks to the redistricting efforts of Joyce Aboussie in 2001, when Democrats still controlled the legislature.

Your vote is the one thing that is just as important as that of a millionaire or a political manipulator. Only grant it to candidates who actually deserve it.


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November 16, 2005 at 3:49 AM  

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