Michigan Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof and other Republican legislators are fighting subpoenas that could force them to testify and expose internal debate over a controversial law to ban straight-ticket voting. The legal drama is unfolding more than a year after a federal judge first suspended the straight-ticket ban in the run-up to the 2016 election, ruling the change could disproportionally burden African-American voters and limit their opportunity to participate in the state’s political process. Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson and Attorney General Bill Schuette’s office are fighting to implement the ban ahead of the 2018 election cycle, arguing it would neutrally apply to voters of all races. The case is scheduled to go to trial in late December.
The suit contends that eliminating the straight-ticket option would make it “unreasonably harder” for residents to vote and lead to longer lines, particularly in areas with large minority populations believed to vote straight-ticket at higher rates.
Plaintiff attorneys seeking to prove allegations of intentional discrimination have subpoenaed top lawmakers involved in the straight-ticket legislation, demanding they sit for depositions and produce internal documents.