The Supreme Court on Friday refused to allow Michigan to ban voters from casting straight-ticket ballots in the coming election after lower courts found the prohibition was likely to discriminate against African Americans and result in long lines at the polls. The justices declined to get involved in a political controversy that began when the state’s Republican leadership passed a bill to end 125 years of straight-ticket voting, which allows a voter to vote for all candidates of a desired party by taking a single action. The Supreme Court gave no reason for its decision for turning down Michigan’s request that it be allowed to enforce the ban. But it was another sign that it will be difficult for those bringing election controversies to the court in advance of November to prevail. Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. said they would have granted the state’s request.
Last week, the court deadlocked on North Carolina’s request to use a comprehensive, strict voting measure that an appeals court found deliberately discriminated against African Americans. The law will not be in place for the coming elections.
Michigan has offered straight-ticket voting since 1891. The state’s voters have twice rejected attempts to abolish it.
But the legislature in 2015 did just that, joining 40 other states that do not allow it. The state said eliminating the option increased the chance that a voter would not overlook nonpartisan issues on the ballot and also make a “more informed vote by examining the credentials and values of each candidate.”