It was a Democrat (Senator Lisa Boscola of Lehigh County) that introduced Senate Bill 421, a proposal to abolish straight-ticket party voting as an option in Pennsylvania. Always a courageous spokesperson for voting reform, she pointed out that this state is in a minority of nine others that allow party-line voting — an option that “continues to be in steady decline across the country, and Pennsylvania should not be last,” she said.
Yes, Republicans quickly climbed aboard the bandwagon and included the proposal in Senate Bill 48, which provides financing for new voting machines. Elimination of the party-line vote option reportedly has long been an objective of that national party’s chair.
But, regardless of motivation, the proposed change is a good one for promoting a more conscientious electorate. Working at the polls in Union County, one readily notices how so many voters appear to cast their ballots in 15 seconds or less, as if mindlessly expressing some belief that a party label is a mandatory or magic determinant of candidates best qualified to represent them.
In legislative parlance, there is something called a “rat” — an undesirable amendment to a bill made for consideration of someone who supports the initial bill. If the supporter really wants the initial bill to become law, he/she must “swallow the rat” with it. Gov. Tom Wolf has now decided to veto the bill. We wonder whether voters’ concerns about financing new voting machines would have been resolved without the amendment and party power plays.