LANSING (WWJ/AP) – The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to let Michigan’s new ban on straight-party voting take effect for the November election.
The court on Friday rejected a request by state officials to halt lower court rulings that blocked the Republican-sponsored law signed by Gov. Rick Snyder.
The court’s decision means Michigan voters will still be able to use the popular straight-ticket option, which allows them to support all candidates from one party with a single mark.
In issuing a preliminary injunction, a federal district judge ruled the law would create longer lines and disproportionately burden black voters who are more likely to use the straight-ticket option. The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied a request for a stay pending appeal.
Attorney Mark Brewer, who fought for straight-party voting, says this ruling is a great victory for all Michigan voters.
“Half of Michigan’s voters use straight-party voting. That means in November about two-and-a-half million people will show up expecting to do that of all parties, you know: Democratic, Republican, third-party — everybody uses it,” Brewer said, speaking live with WWJ’s Jackie Paige Friday morning.
While 40 other states prohibit straight-party voting, Brewer — who is a former Michigan Democratic party chair — says Michigan is a special case.
“This other states, Jackie, they have early voting, they have no reason absentee voting. They have other ways that people can vote and in Michigan we don’t have any of those things,” Brewer said.
“Voting is very difficult here. And so what happens is straight-party voting makes it easier for the millions of voters who have to go to the polls in election day to vote,” he said. “We also have one of the longest ballots and one of the longest waiting times in the entire country.”
Brewer said the elimination of straight-party voting would make long lines at the polls even longer.
“And the law is very clear that long lines deter people from voting; and that’s a violation, not only of the Constitution, but — in the case of minority voters — of the Voting Rights Act.”
Brewer disagrees with those on the other side of the issue, including state Attorney General Bill Schuette, who say the straight-party voter is an uninformed voter, calling that insinuation “an insult.”
WWJ Lansing Bureau Chief Tim Skubick said Friday’s ruling will likely have a significant impact on election day.
“Here’s the data on who wins in straight-party line voting: First of all, 50 percent of the people in Michigan use this option, 30 percent of those are Democrats, 19 percent are Republicans,” Skubick said. “So, clearly, this gives a political advantage to the Democrats going into the November election.”
The case now heads to trial to decide if there was a “political intent” by the Republican party to disenfranchise African-American voters. A judge will decide whether to permanently block the ban.
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