While thinking about the importance of voting my mind led me back to a personal belief that voting a straight party ticket with one mark is a bad thing for government. I have nothing against someone choosing to cast all their votes for one party, but they should do so for each candidate – parties are not supposed to run the government, elected individuals are.
The only argument that I can imagine in favor of the straight party option on a ballot is that someone might accidentally vote for the wrong candidate when they mean to vote for candidates from a single party. Imagine that they vote D, D, D, D, D, D, R, D where that R was a candidate for the school board that they accidentally mixed up the name since there was less advertising for that race.
This is where technology can help us. Since we have already moved to touch-screen voting machines (here in Utah as well as many other places) we could change the straight party selection so that instead of casting our votes for us that selection would make the candidates from our chosen party stand out (change color, larger font – there are plenty of options) but the voter would still be expected to select the individual candidates for their votes to be cast in each race.