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Before you vote- know the difference in ballot options

MADISON COUNTY, Ala. - Pay attention-- especially if you're a new voter-- there are two types of ways to fill out the ballots. A split party ballot is where you individually choose a candidate in each category. Then there is a straight party ballot.

"Some people vote for a straight party ticket because that's the party they want to vote for," said Tom Ryan, Chairman of the Madison County Democratic Party.

Meaning, you circle the party you are for and when you enter the ballot, the computer chooses every candidate in that party. It's kind of like an easy button.

But what if there is one candidate that isn't in your party and you still want to vote for them, but you don't want to go through the hassle of filling out every candidate in a split party ballot? Well, you have options. You choose your party affiliation on the top of the straight party ballot and you fill in the bubble for the candidate that is in a different party. "That vote will count, and the [ones left blank] will go to the straight party vote," said Ryan. He says it keeps more people voting based on the person, and not the party affiliation.

This impacts some candidates like Madison County District One County Commissioner, Roger Jones, who could get swept out in party-line voting. "It is a big deal for me. Madison County is strong Republican, I'm running as a Democrat," said Jones. Jones says he's confident the machines will count the votes correctly, even on the straight party ballots. "Here in this country we have the best way to vote for our leaders, and I've got faith in the system."

He just encourages everyone to get out and vote.