This morning the Michigan Senate Elections Committee voted to advance a Republican-sponsored bill – S.B. 13 – that will eliminate straight-ticket voting in our state. If it becomes law, you will no longer have the convenience of simply pulling one lever, filling in one oval, or punching one chad to vote for all the candidates in your preferred party. The vote was entirely along party lines with Democrats voting against the effort to make voting harder.
Republicans on the committee, of course, favor making voting more difficult. Gerrymandering, disenfranchising voters through onerous voting requirements, and making voting less convenient is part of their overall strategy to rig elections in their own favor. And, of course, they voted to make the bill take “immediate effect” so that it can impact elections as soon as possible.
Michigan is one of ten states that permits straight-ticket voting.
In 2001, a similar bill – sponsored by Republican Bill Bullard and co-sponsored by none other than then-senator Bill Schuette – was signed into law by Republican Governor John Engler. That law was overturned by voters the following year via a statewide ballot proposal.
In other words, Michiganders LIKE straight-ticket voting.
Lonnie Scott, Executive Director of Progress Michigan excoriated Republicans for their blatant move to make voting more difficult for Michiganders:
Senate Republicans proved that they are afraid to face the voters of Michigan and instead are continuing to use their legislative majority to rig the rules in their favor. This bill does nothing to advance democracy in Michigan. Instead, it only confirms that Michigan Republicans are not interested in a debate about their failed policies. Suppressing the vote is the act of political cowards, which at this point is typical of what we have seen from the Michigan GOP.
Given the history of Michigan voters overturning the ban on straight-ticket voting in 2002, expect an appropriation to be added to the bill at the last minute to make it referendum-proof, preventing voters from overturning it this time, too. That is, after all, how Michigan Republicans roll. They aren’t big fans of democracy.
Meanwhile, the group Let’s Vote Michigan will soon begin collecting signatures to make Michigan a vote-by-mail because making voting easier is something that will have to come from the citizens of Michigan. There is no way something that accomplishes that will ever come out of our Republican-dominated, coward-infested legislature.
[CC photo credit: Tom Arthur | Wikimedia Commons]