Burns votes to ban straight-party voting in Pa.

Move weakens political party control, creating more-informed electorate

EBENSBURG, June 27 Seeking to steer Pennsylvania away from political party control that many find increasingly distasteful, state Rep. Frank Burns was among a handful of Democrats to join with Republican lawmakers in backing a bill to abolish straight-party voting, a move that emphasizes voting for the best person and not the party.


Burns, D-Cambria, said that while Republicans were pushing S.B. 48, he philosophically agrees that Pennsylvania needs to end its archaic status as one of only eight states that still permit the option of straight-party voting.


“For too long, we’ve been mired in the quicksand of the past, where political party bosses on both sides relied on straight-party voting to obtain and exert control – often for their own benefit,” Burns said. “Passing this legislation lifts us out of that sinking pit and into the modern era, where paying attention to individual candidates instead of pulling a single lever will lead to a more informed and independent-thinking electorate.”


Burns said his vote Thursday in favor of S.B. 48 is a reflection not only of his personal belief that the person is more important than the party, but also a result of listening to those he represents.


“The people I talk to in Cambria County are upset, if not downright disgusted, at the failure of both political parties to compromise and govern effectively,” Burns said. “They are tired of politicians on both sides of the political spectrum constantly digging their heels in and refusing to work together – and they want that to change. I believe that ending straight-party voting will help accomplish that, because everyone will be forced to pay closer attention to the actual person running for elected office.”


This bill provides much-needed funding to counties to replace all voting machines, as mandated by the governor. “Governor Wolf should sign this bill immediately to reimburse counties that are struggling to find a way to pay for his voting machine mandate” Burns said.    


In addition to Pennsylvania, Burns noted that by the 2020 election, only six other states will allow straight-party voting: Alabama, Indiana, Kentucky, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Utah.