Today a Republican-led House Elections Committee voted to eliminate the ability for people in Michigan to cast one vote for all of the candidates in a given political party with one vote. These “get big government out of my life” conservatives are only against rules and regulations when they aren’t benefiting them and they know that creating long waits, longer voting times, and havoc at polling places, in general, benefits them, particularly in urban areas where typically Democrats enjoy wide support.
How much longer does it take to vote on one of Michigan’s notoriously long ballots? Progress Michigan took a look and found that, on average, it takes over a minute and a half longer. Multiplied by the average number of people voting on election day (remember, we don’t have multi-day voting in Michigan), that equates to over 19 extra voting hours per day. In crowded precincts like those in urban areas, the problem is compounded.
Take a look:
This move also increases the number of spoiled ballots which only adds makes the problem worse.
My good friend Laura Packard, an experienced election worker, had this to say on Facebook:
Just wanted to state this once more, with feeling… as an election worker for the city of Ann Arbor for approaching two decades now, I can say that from my experience (~3x a term-limited State Rep’s experience and ~2x a term-limited State Senator’s experience, incidentally) Michigan Senate Bill 13 is a terrible idea.
Eliminating straight ticket voting will back up lines in city precincts like Ann Arbor and urban precincts across the state EVEN MORE during busy election days.
There is no possible legitimate reason to sign this into law except to suppress the vote in urban areas. (Which is why Clerks from both parties across the state have panned it: http://michiganradio.org/post/local-clerks-blast-bill-eliminate-straight-ticket-voting-michigan)
If the Legislature wanted to increase access to voting, there’s all kinds of reforms they could look at: no reason absentee, early voting, same day registration, automatic voter reg for starters.
If they wanted people to have a “more educated” vote, why not go to all-vote-by-mail elections a la Washington/Oregon/Colorado, where ballots are sent to all registered voters, including an election guide with detailed information on all the candidates, proposals etc. and people have weeks to think about their vote and get more information.
This is a total partisan hack job, courtesy of our state legislature, and please do remember this as you wait in VERY LONG LINES to vote next year if it becomes law.
The bill now goes to the full House for final approval. Since it has now been tie-barred to a no-reason absentee ballot voting bill, after that it would need to go back to the Senate where a different version has already been approved.
One more thing: Because they want to make voting as difficult as possible and don’t want anything standing in their way when they do so, Republicans added a $1 million appropriation to this bill. It’s a ludicrous and transparent move to stop voters from being able use the ballot to overturn crappy legislation – just like Michigan voters did when they overturned the exact same law in 2002. Bills with appropriations in them are referendum-proof.
Or, as I like to call it: democracy-proof.
I’d say they should be ashamed of themselves but these people have no shame. Only a lust for power and money and a strong desire to impose their worldview on the entire state.