Michigan’s new ban on straight-party voting will affect turnout in the fall election, especially among minorities who will be turned off by standing in long lines and combing through a long ballot, an attorney said Thursday as she urged a judge to stop a law that was passed by Republicans. “This is an election of great consequence. … Disruption would be very damaging,” Mary Ellen Gurewitz said. Gurewitz and co-counsel Mark Brewer, the former head of the state Democratic Party, represent three people and a union-affiliated group in a lawsuit that claims the ban on straight-party voting violates the rights of minorities and the disabled. Voters no longer can choose candidates of one political party with a single mark, bringing Michigan in line with 40 other states.
U.S. District Judge Gershwin Drain said he will decide next week whether to issue an injunction.
Lawyers said roughly half of the ballots in recent statewide elections have been cast with a single mark. An end to straight-party voting could have a big impact in cities that are friendly to Democrats and have large black populations, especially Detroit. In Detroit and Flint, more than 70 percent of ballots have been straight-ticket.