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Straight-Ticket Voting Elimination Bill Ready For Gov. Snyder's Signature

Dec 17, 2015

Michigan House of Representatives
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Legislation that would eliminate the straight-ticket voting option on Michigan ballots is headed to Governor Rick Snyder’s desk. Jake Neher reports.

State lawmakers have approved eliminating the straight-ticket voting option on Michigan ballots.  The bill cleared the state House and Senate by narrow margins at the end of a late night marathon session.  Under Senate Bill 13, voters would no longer have the option to vote for all candidates of a single party on a ballot by filling in one bubble.  Republican supporters of getting rid of straight-ticket voting argue people should vote for individual candidates, not political parties.  “This is an old, antiquated system.  40 other states don’t use it,” said state Rep. Al Psholka (R-Stevensville).

Lawmakers also abandoned legislation to allow no-reason absentee voting – which had previously been tied to the straight-ticket voting bill.  Opponents say the result will be longer lines on Election Day, especially if the state does not provide easier access to absentee ballots.  “Before, you may have been able to say expanding absentee voting would reduce those length in lines. Now, you factually cannot do so,” said state Rep. John Hoadley (D-Kalamazoo).

Other critics say the bill would disenfranchise voters – especially in areas that lean Democrat.  “You have to ask yourselves, do you believe in free elections?  Or do you want to game the system to make that system somehow give you an advantage?” said state Sen. Steve Bieda (D-Warren).

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— Jake Neher is the State Capitol Reporter for the Michigan Public Radio network. Contact WEMU News at 734.487.3363 or email us at studio@wemu.org