Removing political parties from ballots gains momentum in Legislature

Feb 23, 2023, 2:42 PM | Updated: 3:21 pm
A voter fills out his ballot in Vancouver, Washington. (Photo by Nathan Howard/Getty Images)
(Photo by Nathan Howard/Getty Images)

House Bill 1826 would eliminate party labels from Washington’s ballots, with the Legislature weighing whether or not they want candidates to remain identified by a political party.

The bill would ultimately force Washingtonians to vote, according to KTTH’s Jason Rantz, not based on a political party, but on the position the individual holds.

“This bill was dropped near the cut off, so really, it’s a tool to have this conversation about the intense partisanship that we’re seeing in elections,” Representative Skyler Rude (R-District 16) said on The Jason Rantz Show on AM 770 KTTH.

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Rude, the sponsor of the bill, stated Washington practices this for some of our elected positions, including city councils, and the superintendent of public instruction. He even cited there’s been a movement to do this for the secretary of state’s office.

“My own experiences at the legislature, our system is very much built around two parties,” Rude said. “My hope is for voters to not just vote along party lines, but to actually do the research and learn how about the candidates before voting. I think there’s, at least for me, concern that what’s happening on a national level seems to trickle down.”

The trend towards strictly party-line voting is a growing concern, both locally and nationally. In the early 1970s, party unity voting was around 60%, but within the last 10 years, it has grown to approximately 90% in both the House and Senate, according to Forbes.

“There are always going to be people who vote for a name because that was their grandma’s name, there’s not a way we can get around that,” Rude said. “But the voter’s pamphlet would still be able to include a candidate’s statement that includes their party preference if they want, this is just to step a little bit away from the ballot itself.”

Rude pointed out that the voter’s guide and the ballot itself is paid for by the taxpayers, including all the independent taxpayers. Rude stated independent voters account for approximately one-third of Washington voters.

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“I like this, because I think it could favor Republicans in western Washington,” Rantz said during his conversation with Rude. “We have way more Democrats here than Republicans, and I think that they will always vote for a Democrat regardless of listening to the Republican candidate and what he or she has to say. This, at least, gives a Republican a shot at getting elected in western Washington.”

“You’re onto something there,” Rude replied. “I think every, or nearly every, elected legislator is a beneficiary of our current two party system with the partisan label in the ballot.”

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3 – 6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here.

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Removing political parties from ballots gains momentum in Legislature