2. It's a common option, but it goes way beyond non-partisan races.
In PA for example, candidates often cross file to get a vote regardless of which straight ticket vote is checked. The open question, and one I haven't gotten an answer to, is in the "pick 3 of these 5" type race (like town council), if all five cross-file, who gets the straight ticket vote? Alphabetical? Random? I've never gotten an answer and I've asked at polling places for years. They don't know. I check every box individually and leave blank races where I don't approve of anyone on the ballot. I've voted the equivalent of straight ticket, but never by checking that one box.
By the way, wasn't that Lilly Tomlin sitting at the table in the last scene?