Judge sticks with ruling to keep straight-ticket voting
A federal judge on Monday declined to lift his own injunction blocking Michigan’s new ban on straight-ticket voting, a dispute the state is asking an appeals court to settle this week ahead of the November election.
U.S. District Court Gershwin Drain denied a motion from attorneys for Secretary of State Ruth Johnson, who argued he erred last month when he prohibited the state from implementing the new ban.
Lifting the injunction would subject Michigan voters to the “harms” of the straight-ticket voting ban, said Drain, who had ruled the law was likely to disproportionately burden African-American voters who have historically used the straight-ticket option a higher rate.
Johnson and Attorney General Bill Schuette have already filed an emergency motion with the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, saying the law is “neutral, not discriminatory” and applies equally to all voters, regardless of race.
They are asking for appeals court action by Wednesday, urging an immediate “stay” so the state can implement the law in time for the general election.
The Michigan Chamber of Commerce on Monday filed briefs in support of the state, arguing Drain based his preliminary injunction on “woefully incomplete statistics and erroneous legal standards.”
Michigan had been one of 10 states that allowed straight-ticket voting, which gives voters the time-saving option of selecting all candidates of a single political party rather than filling out individual bubbles for each.
Michigan’s Republican-led Legislature approved the ban in December, arguing it would modernize the state’s election process and encourage a more informed electorate.
In signing the law, GOP Gov. Rick Snyder said legislators could address concerns over longer voting times by sending him a separate bill to expand absentee voting options, which they have not done.