Michigan’s high-stakes battle over straight-ticket voting echoes a national fight over new laws critics argue could disenfranchise minorities and affect the outcome of the 2016 elections. Much of the national debate centers on strict voter identification laws backed by Republicans as a means to curb election fraud. Federal courts recently struck down strict ID and other voting rules in North Carolina and Texas. An appeals court last week reinstated a Wisconsin version. The North Carolina law “required in-person voters to show certain photo IDs, beginning in 2016, which African-Americans disproportionately lacked, and eliminated or reduced registration and voting access tools that African Americans disproportionately used,” a three-judge appeals court panel of all Democratic appointees ruled in July. Democrats and allies have pushed legal challenges to new voting rules in several states they say could limit participation by minority voters more likely to support presidential nominee Hillary Clinton than Republican businessman Donald Trump.
Here in Michigan, a federal judge appointed by President Barack Obama last month issued preliminary injunctions blocking a new ban on straight-ticket voting, ruling it could pose an undue burden on minority voters and lead to long lines in minority precincts. Attorney General Bill Schuette has filed an emergency appeal with the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, noting the blanket voting rule applies equally to all voters in the state, regardless of race.
Michigan is one of nine states that still allowed straight-ticket voting, which gave voters the option to select all candidates for a single party rather than fill in individual bubbles. In the Great Lakes region, Illinois abolished its law in 1997, and Wisconsin followed suit in 2012. Republican backers say Michigan’s new law will encourage a more informed electorate.
“Simply stated, the requirement that voters vote the entire ballot – and not just fill in a single oval – does not impinge the right to vote but arguably expands that right by having the voter review the entire ballot,” Schuette said in a court filing.
Full Article: Mich.’s straight-ticket fight echoes national debate.