I recently wrote about Michigan Republicans’ ulterior motive when they eliminated the ability to vote a straight ticket ballot with one mark. Although they laughably claim it is intended to force Michigan voters to do more research, the actual reason is very politically-motivated:
People like me frequently say that “Republicans control every aspect of government in Michigan”. However, that’s not entirely true. The one place where Democrats still maintain a majority is the State Board of Education. And that is at the core of this entire tempest in a piss pot. Republicans cannot stand the fact that they don’t control this group and are using the LGBTQ guidance as a smokescreen for their efforts to either take control or eliminate it entirely.
You can be very sure that when Republicans passed the law preventing straight-ticket ballots in Michigan, this was one of the reasons they did it: straight-ticket voting helps Democrats in less-known races like the State Board of Education and University Boards of Regents and Trustees.
Democrat Henry Yanez from Sterling Heights has introduced legislation to test the sincerity of the Republicans’ stated reason for eliminating straight ticket voting in Michigan. His bill – House Bill 5709 – would move all of the ballot proposals and nonpartisan races to the TOP of the ballot. They are currently at the end of the ballot, typically on the reverse side, so it’s easy for people to vote in the presidential race and the races for other top-level positions and skip the nonpartisan portion altogether, something that actually happens on a regular basis. Yanez describes the intent of his legislation in this way:
Even during presidential years, voter fatigue is a problem, and without the option of straight-ticket voting, it is likely to get worse when people only vote a part of the ballot. By flipping the ballot and moving ballot issues to the top, nonpartisan races next, followed by partisan races and the presidential race at the bottom, I believe we will see increased voter participation in often over-looked races.
We should all be able to agree that increased voter participation is a good thing. If we can’t have straight-ticket voting, then we should at least create a ballot that encourages voting the entire ballot.
In his statement, Yanez explained that in his House District 25, voter fatigue from those who voted in 2012 for president but didn’t vote in the state representative race averaged around 6 to 7 percent per precinct. Without the straight-ticket voting option, it’s reasonable to expect voter fatigue will increase and fewer votes will be cast in the races now listed at the bottom of the ballot.
Within each section of the ballot Yanez’s legislation requires that each race be placed in succession based on the size of a race’s representative jurisdiction and whether the race is local, state or federal. Generally speaking, the larger the jurisdiction, the further down the ballot the race is placed.
It’s a smart idea even without it being a test of Republicans veracity. These nonpartisan races and ballot proposals are IMPORTANT! These days it takes a LOT of work and money to get a proposal on the ballot and we should be encouraging MORE people to vote on them, not fewer.
It’s pretty unlikely that Republicans will ever let this bill see the light of day, of course, and even more unlikely that our CEO governor will sign it into law. That would defeat the purpose of the current system which is to discourage voting, not encourage it.
The ball is in your court, Michigan Republicans. What you do with it is up to you. And we are watching.