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.Full Article: Supreme Court rejects Michigan ban on straight-ticket voting - The Washington Post.
straight party voting
About half of Michigan voters used the straight-ticket ballot option in the 2012 presidential election, an MLive survey of county election officials found. About 30 percent of 2012 voters supported the Democratic ticket; 19 percent, the Republican ticket and 1 percent voted straight ticket for a third party. The numbers are based on statistics from 33 Michigan counties that collectively accounted for 85 percent of the 4.5 million ballots cast statewide in 2012. MLive contacted election officials from all 83 Michigan counties, but many did not have the 2012 breakdown for straight-ticket voting, which allows filling out a single bubble to vote for all candidates of one party. About half of Michigan voters used the straight-ticket option in the last presidential election. However, MLive was able to get the data for the state’s largest counties, including Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Kent, Genesee, Washtenaw, Ingham, Ottawa, Kalamazoo, Saginaw, Livingston, Muskegon, Jackson, Allegan and Bay, as well as 18 smaller counties.Full Article: Half of Michigan voters used straight-ticket ballot option in 2012 | MLive.com.
Opponents of Michigan’s new straight ticket-voting ban asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday to reject Attorney General Bill Schuette’s emergency appeal, predicting “massive confusion and even longer lines at polling places” if the state’s ban is enforced. The prohibition on letting voters fill in one bubble for all Democratic or all Republican candidates on the Nov. 8 ballot would deter African-American voters in particular, attorneys for the plaintiffs argued. “Millions of voters of all parties use it, have come to depend on it, and expect to be able to use it again this November,” the lawyers wrote in a brief filed Wednesday, noting the state has made no effort to educate voters that straight-party voting would not be available this fall. The lawyers include Mark Brewer, a Southfield attorney who is the former Michigan Democratic Party chairman.Full Article: Supporters ask justices to allow straight-ticket voting.
As we approach the November election, we know some people like to choose the straight party option to vote for all Republicans or all Democrats. This time around in Indiana, there’s a small change voters need to take note of. When you step up to your voting machine in just over a couple of months, right there on page one is the “Straight Party Ticket” function. Let’s say you push the button for the Democratic Party, the machine automatically puts an “X” next to the Democrat for President, U.S.Senate, Governor and on down the line for all the partisan races. Under a state law that took effect in July, there’s one exception, where you need to guard against being tripped up.Full Article: Law change impacts Hoosiers looking to vote 'straight ticket' in November | 21Alive: News, Sports, Weather, Fort Wayne WPTA-TV, WISE-TV, and CW | NBC33.
Michigan: Attorney General takes fight against straight-ticket voting to U.S. Supreme Court | MLive.com
The latest in a line of emergency motions filed in an attempt to block straight-ticket voting, Michigan Attorney Bill Schuette is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene. Schuette made an emergency filing Friday, Sept. 2, asking the U.S. Supreme Court to stay a preliminary injunction a federal court issued against Michigan’s law that blocks the practice of straight-ticket voting. The filing asks the Supreme Court to stay the preliminary injunction pending a “merits decision” by the Court of Appeals.Full Article: Michigan AG takes fight against straight-ticket voting to U.S. Supreme Court | MLive.com.
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.Full Article: Straight-ticket voting likely after court loss.
Michigan: Appeals Court: Michigan Must Allow Straight-Ticket Voting in November | Wall Street Journal
A federal appeals court rejected efforts by Michigan officials to preserve a ban on straight-party voting through the coming elections. The Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals declined on Wednesday to stand in the way of a July ruling by a federal trial judge, who pronounced the Republican-backed ban, passed in 2015, an unconstitutional burden on voting rights, particularly those of African-Americans. The ruling means that straight-party voting — which allows people to vote for candidates of their desired political party by making a single mark rather than voting for each candidate individually — almost certainly will be an option on ballots come November.Full Article: Appeals Court: Michigan Must Allow Straight-Ticket Voting in November - Law Blog - WSJ.
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.Full Article: Mich.’s straight-ticket fight echoes national debate.
Michigan: Attorney General seeks to reinstate ban on straight-ticket voting for fall election | Reuters
Michigan’s attorney general has asked a federal appeals court to reinstate a law banning straight-ticket voting – the practice of using one mark to vote for all candidates from one party – in time for the November general election. The law, passed by Michigan’s majority Republican legislature and signed by Republican Governor Rick Snyder, was temporarily suspended in federal district court last month. A coalition of civil rights and labor groups had argued that it would keep African-Americans from voting. On Wednesday, Attorney General William Schuette, also a Republican, filed two emergency motions with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, saying the law would not place a burden on voters or violate the U.S. Voting Rights Act, as the coalition had alleged in a lawsuit aimed at overturning the legislation.Full Article: Michigan seeks to reinstate ban on straight-ticket voting for fall election | Reuters.
Monroe County officials can use Hart InterCivic voting equipment for the upcoming general election despite the Indiana Election Commission’s having censured the vendor for failure to comply with state voting laws. County Elections Supervisor Laura Dahncke said the Indiana Election Commission approved a resolution allowing Hart InterCivic, the county’s voting machines vendor, and two others, Dominion and Election Systems and Software, to use current machines in the general election. At a June Indiana Election Commission meeting, clerks learned that equipment could possibly be decertified. William Ellis, the Republican member on the Monroe County Election Board, said he believes the Indiana Election Commission made the right choice in allowing use of current voting equipment this year. He noted that it also gives vendors and legislators more time to address possible certification issues based on a change in interpretation of the law. “The history behind this has to do with a very poorly written statute,” said county Clerk Nicole Browne. “The wording of the statute, if applied literally, compromised voter intent.”
Michigan: State elections officials ask judge to delay straight-ticket voting ruling as they appeal | The Detroit News
State election officials are asking a federal judge to delay implementing a court order that strikes down Michigan’s new law banning straight-ticket voting while they appeal the case. Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette filed an emergency motion late Friday asking U.S. District Court Judge Gershwin A. Drain to stay the four preliminary injunctions he issued against state election officials on July 22 that ban enforcement of the new law. Schuette, in a motion filed by his staff, said he is requesting a decision on the motion by Tuesday “due to the upcoming election deadlines, which are Aug. 16 for final ballot language for the Nov. 8 election and Sept. 24, the day all ballots must be ready to send overseas to members of the U.S. armed forces and to absentee voters. “Defendant is irreparably harmed by having a statute enacted by its elected representatives enjoined so close in time to the pending election,” Schuette wrote.Full Article: State elections officials ask judge to delay straight-ticket voting ruling as they appeal.
Voters casting straight-party ballots in this November’s general election will have an added step not seen before, and some election officials are concerned the changes will present unnecessary challenges. In March, Indiana Public Law 21-2016 went into effect, after Indiana Senate Enrolled Act 61 passed this year’s legislative session and was signed into law by Gov. Pence. The main crux of the bill states that straight-party tickets no longer count for partisan races in which more than one candidate can be chosen, specifically at-large races. Prior to the new law, voters could select their straight party choice in the beginning of the ballot, and this would in effect cast a vote for all candidates in that party without any extra steps, if no other candidates were chosen separately. In this election, they will have to manually select any at-large candidates for whom they wish to vote.Full Article: Indiana prepares for change to straight-party votes in November | News | newsandtribune.com.
State election officials plan to appeal a court order striking down Michigan’s new law banning straight-ticket voting, potentially creating complications for the November election. Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette and Secretary of State Ruth Johnson will file an appeal on Monday or Tuesday on U.S. District Court Judge Gershwin A. Drain’s decision to issue four preliminary injunctions against state election officials, Schuette spokesman John Sellek said Thursday. “We have no further comment at this time other than to confirm that we will appeal in defense of this state law as passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor,” Selleck said. In a passionate 37-page opinion announced Thursday, Drain said the new law will reduce African-Americans’ opportunity to participate in the state’s political process and puts a disproportionate burden on African-Americans’ right to vote.Full Article: Judge blocks Michigan ban on straight-party voting.
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.Full Article: Judge urged to stop Michigan ban on straight-party voting | National | dailyjournalonline.com.
A federal judge said Thursday that opponents of more than a dozen new Wisconsin election laws had made a “pretty decent case” that Republicans approved them to secure a partisan advantage, but added he isn’t convinced the measures actually had a dramatic effect. U.S. District Judge James Peterson’s comments came in closing arguments of a lawsuit challenging the laws passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature and signed by Gov. Scott Walker since 2011. Peterson promised to rule by the end of July but has said that will be too late to affect the Aug. 9 primary for the field of candidates running for dozens of state and federal races will be narrowed before the Nov. 8 general election. An attorney for two liberal groups challenging the laws, including the requirement that voters show photo identification at the polls, argued that they should be found unconstitutional and stopped from being enforced. But a state Department of Justice attorney said there was no evidence to support a wholesale undoing of the laws. “They’re going for the home run,” Assistant Attorney General Clay Kawski said. “They just haven’t shown that.”Full Article: Judge: ‘Decent case’ political role in Wisconsin voting laws - The Washington Post.
A group of African American labor activists is suing in U.S. District Court to stop a new law eliminating straight-ticket voting. The Michigan A. Philip Randolph Institute is being represented by former Michigan Democratic Party Chair Mark Brewer, an attorney with Southfield-based Goodman Acker P.C. The group is suing Secretary of State Ruth Johnson in her official capacity and hopes to stop enforcement before November elections, Brewer said. Public Act 268, which Gov. Rick Snyder signed in January, eliminates an option for voters to vote for all partisan positions by choosing either an all-Republican or all-Democratic option.Full Article: New straight-ticket voting law in Michigan prompts lawsuit | MLive.com.
Eliminating straight-ticket voting is a violation of the U.S. Constitution, the Voting Rights Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act, according to a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Detroit Tuesday. “Voters are going to be forced to vote the entire ballot, which will cause tremendous congestion and lines, which means people aren’t going to be able to wait to vote,” said Mark Brewer, one of the lead lawyers in the case and the former chairman of the Michigan Democratic Party. “Voters will be disenfranchised, and this is going to be particularly bad in African-American voting precincts.” Straight-ticket voting allows voters to fill in one box on the ballot to support all Democrats or all Republicans all the way down the ballot. Local clerks have said the option has helped speed voting lines, which tend to get quite long, especially in urban areas during presidential election years. In 2008, voters in Detroit reported lines that lasted more than two hours.Full Article: Lawsuit challenges elimination of straight-ticket voting.
Indiana lawmakers have enacted a significant change for anyone casting a straight-party ballot. A new state law requires that those opting for just one party on the ballot take the additional steps of selecting individual candidates in all at-large races, according to one of the bill’s sponsors, Rep. David Ober, R-Albion. No ballots will be cast in at-large races without taking these additional few steps, he said. The change was enacted because when those casting a straight-party ballot on electronic equipment chose to support candidates of the opposing party in at-large races, those latter changes were not being counted, Ober said.Full Article: State makes big change for straight-party voters | Government and Politics | nwitimes.com.
While the general election is still almost eight months away, straight-party voters might want to practice filling in a few extra bubbles. Under a bill that made it through the General Assembly and that will presumably be signed by Gov. Mike Pence, straight-party voters in November and future general elections will have to individually mark at-large candidates for those votes to count. For example, Porter County has three at-large Democratic candidates and three at-large Republic candidates running for the County Council in November. A straight-ticket voter for either party will have to individually mark those at-large candidates or those candidates won’t get that vote. The switch could affect tens of thousands of voters. In the 2012 Porter County general election, 32,000 people cast straight-ticket ballots. About 56 percent were Democrats, 42 percent were Republicans, and the rest were Libertarians.Full Article: Towing party line at ballot box could leave some at large - Post-Tribune.
Straight-ticket voting will remain an option for Utah voters. A House committee Tuesday rejected Rep. Patrice Arent’s HB119 to eliminate the option when six of the panel’s eight Republicans opposed it. Two GOP lawmakers joined the committee’s two Democrats in favor. Straight-ticket voting allows for a resident to vote for all candidates of one party with a single push of the button. Arent, D-Millcreek, said it has caused confusion in the past, citing as an example the 2006 election when the little-known Personal Choice Party received 14 percent of the vote in Salt Lake County.Full Article: Bill to eliminate straight party voting is defeated | The Salt Lake Tribune.