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What would a ban on straight-ticket voting mean for voters?

Dec 10, 2015

Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

As the Michigan House and Senate wrap up for the year, there’s a piece of legislation that could change what voters experience in the booth. The Republican majority is working to pass a plan that would eliminate the straight-ticket voting option on the ballot.

I spoke with Susan Demas, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, and Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants.

Both Demas and Sikkema point out that this is not the first time Republicans have tried to pass a ban on straight ticket voting.

Demas says:

This has been a long-time priority of Republicans to get rid of. They see it as a particular advantage to the Democrats. And it is lame duck and it's the time when issues like this tend to come up.

Opponents of the plan say it will make voting more difficult. Local clerks say a ban on straight-ticket voting could increase wait times at the polls.  

Sikkema says Republicans acknowledge those concerns are likely to be accurate, since they have included money in the bill to pay for additional voting machines:

I think Republicans are basically admitting that it's going to result in longer lines because the $5 million appropriation they put in there is for more voting machines for that very reason. So they're basically admitting that this is going to cause long lines.

For now, the future of the bill is uncertain. The House has tie-barred it to a another bill that would allow no-reason absentee voting. That means one bill can't pass without the other unless the Senate moves to separate them.

Here's our conversation: