Big Changes In Store For License Plates By: Frank Friday Esquire Director Straight Vote Increasingly Rare By: Frank Friday Esquire Director This trend will only increase as more Millennials reach adulthood. The consequences are enormous. Already, more cars in America are retired each year than are placed in service. Gasoline consumption hit a 10-year low in 2014, and realty development has undergone a radical rethinking as fewer new large suburban tracts are being planned than in the past. What’s the cause for such a change? One thing may just be the cost. The price of automobiles, along with insurance, maintenance and the like, adjusted for inflation, is at an all-time high. Another is the tough new driver’s license regimes that came in the 1990s to discourage teens from reckless driving. If you need to be 18 to have an unrestricted license, that diminishes the high-school car culture. Perhaps most important is the smart phone and internet. The car is a means to an end. If one does all his or her shopping and socializing electronically, there is no hurry to invest in a set of wheels. And last of all is the Fast and Furious factor. Gen Y kids have seen so many Vin Diesel movies by the time they reach adulthood, the whole idea of the automobile may seem weird and dangerous. continued from page 1 2 We in Kentucky tend to think of our system of voting as fairly routine, but in fact each state has a lot of flexibility in how it manages and provides elections. This was highlighted in the most recent General Assembly when two bills were offered to abolish “straight ticket” voting. Straight ticket is an option near the party line of a ballot, allowing a voter to simply check a box that will cast a vote for all candidates of a party, unless overridden by individual selections on each office line. It’s thought the straight ticket helps the dominant party in a state by corralling a few stray votes for less prominent races down the ticket, where a voter might otherwise not select at all. Interestingly, the two bills, offered this time in Frankfort, were from Democrats while traditionally the only interest in ending straight party voting in Kentucky has usually come from Republicans. In 2016, Michigan Republicans abolished their straight ticket ballots, only to have Democrats rush to federal court claiming a violation of their civil rights. They succeeded in keeping the straight party vote, for now anyway. Oddly enough, some surprising losses to Republicans in local races in that state in 2016 were then attributed to the power of Trump voters casting straight tickets. But who really knows? Voter analysis is made up of as much superstition and folk legend as there is real evidence in such instances. North Carolina and West Virginia also recently ended their straight ticket ballots, leaving only 10 states that still have this feature. Not surprisingly, all states included have a strong two-party tradition with fewer independents candidates, no matter the region (for example, Pennsylvania in the east, Indiana in the Midwest, Alabama in the south, Utah in the west, and Texas in the southwest). At the other end of voting procedures, there is also something called “cross fusion” voting, where a single candidate is allowed to appear on more than one party line and collect all the votes cast in either placement. This was common in the 19th Century, though, and it appears to be making a bit of a come- back, Oregon reinstituted the practice in 2009, bringing the total to 9 states. Places with strong third-party traditions, such as New York, seem to revel in this form of politics, where it is common for a candidate to win 3 or 4 different party nominations in some elections. This is, of course, made easier if the small party nominates its candidates by convention. It also makes for an opportunity to sometimes play the spoiler. Perhaps the most famous such case in New York came in 1970, when the upstart Conservative Party nominated James Buckley, brother of William F. Buckley, for US Senate, against Gov. Rockefeller’s Republican replacement for Bobby Kennedy, Charlie Goodell, father of the current NFL commissioner. Given the increasing anger over the Vietnam War, Buckley won a close 3-way race against his Republican and Democratic rivals. Kentucky, prior to judicial reform in 1977, also used cross party fusion to elect judges- allowing candidates to enter both the Republican and Democratic primaries for judicial office. Strong candidates often won both party nominations, effectively winning election at that stage. Politicians, as a general rule, are pretty conservative when it comes to their own elections. They like whatever system that elected them, so we probably won’t see any big changes in the near future in Kentucky, like ending the straight ticket, or empowering 3rd parties.