CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- In West Virginia, when you go to vote, you don't have to look at who is running. You can simply hit a straight ticket button.
If you want to vote, say just for Democratic Party candidates, you hit the Democratic Party button and that's it.
Every Democratic candidate on the ballot will get your vote.
But straight ticket voting is fundamentally undemocratic.
If you vote straight ticket, you aren't even looking at the candidates.
And let's say there is an independent candidate on the ballot not affiliated with a party.
That candidate probably won't even get your attention.
Because of the undemocratic nature of straight ticket voting, most states have done away with it.
West Virginia is one of only 15 remaining states that still have it.
In West Virginia, politicians from both parties don't want to get rid of straight ticket voting because they get an automatic percentage of votes from it.
In the Eastern Panhandle where I live, fully 36 percent of voters voted straight ticket in 2010.
I recently surveyed the 10 members of the West Virginia House of Delegates from the Eastern Panhandle --- seven Republicans and three Democrats -- only two -- Michael Folk (R-Berkeley) and Jason Barrett (D-Berkeley) -- said they would favor legislation to get rid of it.
"The elimination of straight ticket voting will help to ensure each vote is cast based on the individual candidates not party affiliation," Barrett said. "Politics has become entirely too partisan. Straight ticket voting makes it even more difficult for a third party or independent candidate. The elimination of straight ticket voting would help to level the playing field for all candidates."