I’ve never voted a straight party ticket. In all the years I’ve voted—and it’s been four and half decades since I turned 18—I have voted in every election. There were times that I voted for every candidate in one party, but I never once pulled the lever, blackened the bubble, or touched the screen to vote the straight party. I always clicked, bubbled, or pressed my choice one candidate at a time.
And I always will.
I owe it to the people on the ballot. The men and women running for office have put their lives on hold, their reputations at stake, and their safety at risk. I might agree with only half of the candidates in any election—at best—but I respect every person’s willingness to serve, and I respect the process.
Each name on the ballot represents a person whose current opinions and past actions I take into account. I try to research and reason through each race in the run-up to Election Day. Who do I trust? Whose opinions most closely match mine on the important issues? Who will perform the hard work of public service?
And sometimes, I don’t know those answers. There have been minor-office elections in which I didn’t properly research the candidates. That’s my fault, but I don’t compound my mistake by blindly voting party, which is what a straight party vote can be.
I might save time by voting once for the whole slate of candidates in a particular party, but hey, I can spare the extra thirty seconds. When I’ve done my research and know who I’ll pick in each race, it’s a pretty quick trip down the ballot. And because I vote for One. Actual. Person. in each race, voting is a gratifying experience. Even when my candidate loses, I know I did my part to support what they stand for.
I do my duty to vote … for a person, not a party.