Straight Party Voting No Longer an Option in Iowa

DES MOINES, Iowa -- Many voters will notice that something is missing from their ballot when they cast their vote, the straight party voting box is no longer at the top of the ballot.

Straight party voting meant you could fill in one bubble to vote for every candidate of a particular party, without physically marking every candidate.

“That went away after the 2017 legislative session. So this is the first election cycle where we don’t have straight party voting. We are one of ten states that had it,” Polk County Auditor Jamie Fitzgerald said.

Now that the option is gone, voting organizations are urging people to allow for extra time at the polling place.

“We haven't been getting a lot of inquiries about it. I think a lot of newer voters and especially younger voters didn't really understand that was an option,” President of the Metro League of Women Voters Jessie Hill said. “And so they just kind of thought, okay well I’m just going to fill in all the bubbles any way. And plus I think for some, straight ticket voting might have felt like, ‘oh gosh is my vote really getting counted?’”

Fitzgerald said some ballots have up to 31 races and suggests looking at a sample ballot before heading to the polls.

“A lot of times the front will be the partisan races, people running for congress, governor, state auditor, secretary of state, all the way down to your state representatives. And then also if you live in an unincorporated area, you’ll see your township trustees on there and those are nonpartisan. The back of the ballot is the same for everybody. In Polk County, we have the judges, soil and water, AG extension and Broadlawns,” Fitzgerald said.

One voter said she noticed the process took longer, but it didn’t discourage her from voting.

"I actually did it on the machine so it was pretty easy just to touch the buttons, but there's seven pages you to have to flip through. So you want to make sure you're getting all of them. There were probably a couple of them that I didn't know who to vote for, so I skipped," voter Kim El-Baroudi said.

Another voter said she never used the straight party option.

“I like to vote for the person that I think is the best one for the job that they are doing, not just straight party. This way I can pick and choose who I want,” voter Joyce Hegna said.

The League of Women Voters has a website where you can see which candidates will be on your ballot.

Sample ballots are also available at county auditors’ offices.