Michigan voters would continue to have the option to cast a straight-ticket ballot this fall under a Thursday ruling from the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. The federal appeals court denied Secretary of State Ruth Johnson’s request for an “en banc” hearing over a suspended state law that would eliminate straight-ticket voting, saying a majority of judges had not voted to reconsider a recent panel decision. The decision was bemoaned by Republican legislators, who approved the law on the grounds it would encourage a more informed electorate, but celebrated as a voting rights victory by Democrats who predicted the straight-ticket ban would have led to longer lines on Election Day. Detroit U.S. District Judge Gershwin A. Drain first struck down the straight-ticket ban in July, ruling it would reduce African-Americans’ opportunity to participate in the political process and put a disproportionate burden on African-Americans’ right to vote.
Leaving the straight-ticket voting option in place while the legal battle continues will not disrupt fall elections, according to a Thursday concurrence written by Appeals Court Judge Karen Nelson Moore, an appointee of Democratic President Bill Clinton. Rather, it will “preserve the 125-year status quo,” she wrote.
It was not immediately clear if Johnson and Attorney General Bill Schuette would pursue further appeal, potentially to the U.S. Supreme Court. Without a reversal by next Friday, straight-ticket voting is poised to continue into the Nov. 8 general election.
Bureau of Elections Director Chris Thomas has called Sept. 9 a “drop-dead” deadline for finalizing the ballot. Wording for any statewide ballot proposals is due by that date, and absentee ballots must be ready to go out by Sept. 24.
Full Article: Straight-ticket voting likely after court loss.