Straight-party votes

Voters looking to vote straight-party would find these instructions and options on their ballot.

Slightly over four out of every 10 voters who entered the voting booth voted a straight-party ticket.

In Allen, DeKalb, LaGrange, Noble and Steuben counties, 100,160 voted straight party, representing 42.3% of all votes cast in the 2020 general election in those counties.

Individual counties ranged from about 37% to one county with more than half of all votes coming in straight-party.

When you hit the straight-party vote button for Republicans, Democrats or Libertarians on the voting machine, the machine auto-selects all candidates of that party for races on the ballot.

However, straight-party voting does not make picks for all races on the ballot, as it doesn’t select partisan candidates in at-large races for things like county councils and it also doesn’t function for nonpartisan school board races, judge retention questions or any other yes/no referendums on the ballot.

Indiana is one of just six states left that has a straight-party voting option on its ballots.

Previous efforts proposed by lawmakers in the Indiana General Assembly to dump the straight-party option, including former Noble County Rep. Dave Ober, never gained traction at the Statehouse.

Straight-party voting was in highest use in Steuben County and lowest use in DeKalb County, with the other three falling in between.

In Steuben County, more than half of all voters voted straight-party at 54.5%. They were followed by LaGrange County at 45.4%, Noble County at 41.7% and Allen County at 41.6%. DeKalb County had the lowest percentage at 36.9%.

Like voting trends across northeast Indiana, where Republicans hold about a 7-in-10 advantage, most straight-party votes went to the GOP.

Across the five counties, Republicans received 70,355 straight-party votes — 29.7% of all ballots cast. Democrats received 29,605 total straight-party votes, with the vast majority of those, 24,212, coming from Allen County.

Libertarians received just 200 straight-party votes across the five counties despite gubernatorial candidate Donald Rainwater collecting thousands of votes across the region. But since most races did not have Libertarian candidates, voters who wanted to vote a full ballot would have had to split their ticket with other parties.

As usual, vote totals show that straight-party voting likely did lead to significant undervoting in races not auto-filled by the option.

Looking at Noble County, for example, despite 19,413 total votes being cast, judge retention questions at the end of the ballot received just over 13,000 votes each, showing that about 6,000 voters left those blank.

In Noble County’s uncontested at-large county council race, the top candidate received only 9,100 votes, showing more than 10,000 voters didn’t cast votes in the race.

Partisan races that had contests, by comparison, had 1,000 undervotes or less, showing that most voters didn’t skip those top-of-ballot races.

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