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Michigan Legislature Votes to Eliminate Straight Ticket Voting

essentialTOPtempMichigan Legislature Votes dinos02sidelogo3to Eliminate Straight Ticket Voting

(C. Proxmire, Dec. 17, 2015)

Lansing, MI – Voting just got more complicated in Michigan as the Legislature voted, mostly along party lines, to eliminate straight ticket voting.  They also removed a companion bill that would have expanded absentee voting options.

After breaking for the holiday, Republicans in the Senate decided to reconvene and take up the bill.  wrightADJENtallAt about 8:45 pm the change passed 24-12.  The House then reconvened with a vote at about 10:30 pm, passing it 54-51.

Republican Senator Marty Knollenberg sponsored the bill, arguing that other states had also eliminated straight ticket voting.

M- Live Reporter Emily Lawler described the process, reporting “Republicans paved the way for the bill’s passage using some rare Senate procedure.

“They cleared the floor of all staff except the Senate Majority Leader’s, leaving Democratic senators without any staff members. Republicans also instituted a call of the Senate, meaning senators could not leave the chamber under threat of arrest.

“Sen. Mike Kowall, R-White Lake, also moved to consider a group of Democratic amendments HowesLocationto the bill en bloc. As a result, seven Democratic amendments were not debated or voted on individually.

“Sen. Curtis Hertel, D-Lansing, said it was ironic that Republicans took a straight-ticket approach to the Democratic amendments instead of addressing them individually.”

Democrats attempted to tie in provisions to make the process more accessible to voters, including “no reason” absentee voting, making Election Day a holiday, and encouraging employers to give voters half a day off to vote.   None of those options passed.

According to The Detroit News, “In 1890, Michigan voters got the right to vote straight-ticket. More than 100 million voters statewide have exercised that right since and 40 percent of garden16_darlene_bignottiMacomb County voters vote straight-ticket without a problem or complaint.”  In 2012, 49% of voters in Oakland County used the straight ticket option.

The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan organization dedicated to the process of democracy, opposed eliminating straight ticket voting because:

~It minimizes options available to voters who clearly draw lines down partisan lines – this applies to both parties and across the state in urban, rural and suburban precincts,
~It leads to longer lines at the polls, which disenfranchises voters. According to the Michigan Association of Municipal Clerks, Michigan ranks 6th in the nation for longest wait in line,
~It leads to incomplete voting that suppresses the vote – the Citizen’s Research Council reports that, “A single voter is asked in an election cycle to vote on between 54 and 150 officials of state government and the judiciary and from 23 to 37 local government officials” and,
~It increases the cost for elections because additional machines need to be purchased and more staff needs to be hired.


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