Gallatin County Commissioners voted to move dropping party affiliation to the ballot

BOZEMAN- Gallatin County voters will decide in November whether to drop party affiliations from local races - but a political professor says it might not be a great idea.

County Commissioner Chair Joe Skinner said making county elections nonpartisan will force people to do research on who they’re actually voting for instead of circling a letter next to a name. 

But David Parker, a political professor at MSU, disagrees.

“You look at all of these candidate biographies that are out there they don’t say very much,” Parker said. “They say very, very, little. That partisan identification is a very good indication of the values of the individual running.” 

Parker compared a nonpartisan election to purchasing a can of soup. He says people don’t read the ingredients; they look at the label. He says fewer voters participate in nonpartisan elections. 

“It’s very simple, Joe is wrong. You look at all the evidence, ballot roll-off shows you people vote less in nonpartisan elections,” Parker said.

Nevertheless, the commissioners unanimously supported putting this on the ballot.

Commissioner Macfarlane said he felt it wasn’t appropriate for an elected official to make a decision on letting elected officials drop affiliation, so that's why it's been handed to voters for the November election. 

If it passes on the November ballot it will take effect at the start of July 2020.

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