Federal Judge Says Straight Ticket Voting Allowed in Michigan

Laura Weber-Davis, WDET

Michigan voters will still be able to vote straight-ticket in this year’s elections.

Wednesday, a federal judge ruled that Republicans in the Legislature “intentionally discriminated” against black voters by passing a law that eliminated straight-ticket voting.

Supporters of the ban argue that straight-ticket voting is antiquated and prevents voters from acting independently.

Opponents believe that ban targeted African American voters, who are more likely than any other group to use straight-ticket voting.

Detroit Today host Stephen Henderson speaks with Mark Brewer, former chairman of the Michigan Democratic Party, who filed the lawsuit against the ban in 2016.

On voting options in Michigan:

We have a very regressive voting regime in this state. We don’t have no reason absentee voting. We don’t have early voting like many other states,” says Brewer. 

And so Michigan is a big funnel and it focuses on Election Day unlike many other states now where people vote over the course of weeks.”

On the benefits of straight ticket balloting:

Courts unanimously say straight party voting helps on Election Day for those who choose to use it and it’s an option. It’s voluntary. It speeds up the process.”

We also have one of the longest ballots in the country and so there’s a unique set of circumstances here that make Election Day a dreadful experience for many voters, particularly African American voters.”

On the court’s decision:

There was just so much evidence that not only this would have a disparate impact on African Americans but that it was intentionally done. And so the judge concluded in his opinion yesterday, this is intentional racial discrimination.”

They [Republicans] knew that if they took this away, the lines would get longer particularly in urban areas particularly. They didn’t care.”

To hear more from Brewer on Detroit Today, click on the audio player above.

Image credit: Jake Neher/WDET

About the Author

Detroit Today

Dynamic and diverse voices. News, politics, community and the issues that define our region. Hosted by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Stephen Henderson, Detroit Today brings you fresh and perceptive views weekdays at 9 am and 7 pm.

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