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Missouri May Drop Straight-Ticket Voting

Thousands of Kansas City and St. Louis residents voted a straight party ticket in last November's election, but Missouri state Sen. John Loudon (search) has proposed that next time, voters take more time at the polls.

"What the process is for is about electing leaders through thoughtful deliberation and anything that deviates from that really ought to be scrutinized," Loudon, a Republican representing St. Louis County, told FOX News. Missouri's largest concentration of Democratic votes is in St. Louis County.

Straight-ticket voting (search) allows voters the choice of pushing just one button to cast a vote for every candidate in a single political party. Supporters of that option say that people of specific convictions don't need to analyze every candidate for each office.

"If you know your principles, when your fundamental principles line up along a certain party line, why not be able to cast your vote along that party line?" asked voter Tom Smallwood.

Democrats cast more than 60 percent of the straight-ticket votes in St. Louis County last November — 60,000 more than St. Louis County Republicans.

With state government under Republican control, the Missouri Republican Party is leading the push to eliminate one-punch voting.

"It's about politics. Republicans are advantaged by doing away with straight-ticket voting," said St. Louis University political professor Ken Warren. Warren said without the one-punch system, Democrats are less likely to work their way through an entire ballot.

"Democrats are much more likely to vote for their first few top candidates and then drop off, and that is why Republicans feel that they would be in an advantageous position," Warren said.

Missouri Democrats argue that if one-punch voting is eliminated, voters will have to spend more time in the voting booth, resulting in longer lines at polling places.

"I want to do things that make it easier and quicker to vote, not longer and more difficult," said Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan (search), a Democrat.

Loudon retorted that people who are asked to make a single mark for a whole ballot are being manipulated.

Missouri Republicans may want to take a lesson from their neighbors. Illinois is the most recent of the 34 states that have eliminated one-punch tickets. Since the practice ended eight years ago, statewide Republican victories have been rare, and the Illinois Republican Party said their candidates have not been helped in local races, either.

Click in the box near the top of the story to watch a report by FOX News' Steve Brown.