There's little doubt that straight-party voting can have a serious effect on an election.
But that doesn't make it a good idea.
Straight-party voting, whether committed by Republicans or Democrats, is simply an exercise in political ignorance and expediency. There's no thought attached to pushing one button or pulling one lever to vote in 10 or 20 or more highly disparate races.
Post-election statistics show that in El Paso County nearly half of those who voted chose to use straight-ticket voting. That includes both Republicans and Democrats, though in heavily Democratic El Paso, the one-push voting obviously favored Democrats. In other areas of Texas, the reverse has been true, with straight-party GOP voting helping the Republicans stay in power.
But you can pretty much bet that anyone voting straight ticket won't know much, if anything, about the races that accompany the feature battle, in this case the presidential election.
It would have been an interesting exercise to talk to people after they had voted straight Democrat.
"Do you know who you voted for for president?"
Most, if not all, would know it was Barack Obama.
"Who did you vote for in the U.S. Senate race?"
Some might know it was Rick Noriega.
"Who did you vote for for constable, for 23rd congressional district, for 448th District Court?"
Few, if any, would know.
The same for Republicans — they would know McCain, possibly Cornyn, then … just forget it.
Texas state Sen. Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio, wants to eliminate straight-party voting in the Lone Star State. It's an idea worth serious consideration, although Wentworth's past attempt failed.
In the Democratic stronghold of El Paso, it's understandable that GOP Chairman Michael Moore doesn't like straight-party voting. Yet, he had a persuasive point when he said of straight-party voting, "You don't have to be very smart to do it, and that's just being honest."
When you're putting people into office who will have big impacts on your lives, isn't it better to cast a smart, educated vote than to vote in blissful ignorance?