INDIANAPOLIS (Sept. 15, 2016) – Straight party voting has changed in Indiana and this November Hoosiers should take note before going to the polls. Hoosiers will still be able to cast a straight ticket on November 8th, but that vote will not count for any individual candidate for county council or town council at-large. Voters now need to select each candidate they wish to elect for at-large county council and town council seats.
“Earlier this year, the General Assembly changed the law to clarify and strengthen voter intent in Indiana,” said Secretary Lawson. “In at-large races there were times when voters cast straight ticket ballots and then marked additional at-large candidates. Sometimes, these voters had over voted, which the law has never allowed.”
Previously, some voters did not follow ballot instructions when voting straight party and chose to split the ticket by marking both a straight party ticket vote in combination with individual candidates in partisan races. The new law eliminates this ambiguity in multi-member races and provides clarity in order to protect voter intent. As with school board elections and votes on public questions, the straight party function does not cast a straight party vote in these races. The new law does not change how the straight party ticket functions in any other ballot race.
An example of this change would be in a town council race featuring three candidates for party A and one candidate for party B. A voter decides to vote straight ticket for party A which would cast a vote for all three A candidates in this race. Then this voter decides to cast a vote for the B party candidate in addition to their straight ticket vote. According to Indiana law prior to 2016, the votes for party A would not count as an over vote would have occurred. Under the new law, the vote for party A candidates will be counted.
In addition to candidate and voter education efforts by the counties, voters will also be notified of the change in the law at the polls. The new law allows the county election board to print voting system instruction either on the ballot or in the voting booth.