Editor’s Note: For fairness in voting, think absentee

Ingrid Jacques
The Detroit News

Michigan Republicans are taking a beating by Democrats over the legislation to end straight-ticket voting. But it’s here to stay, after Gov. Rick Snyder signed the bill into law on Tuesday.

Democrats are accusing their GOP counterparts of passing legislation that will aid them in upcoming elections since Democrats tend to vote straight ticket more often than Republicans — especially in places like Wayne County.

Democrats have also complained that ending straight-ticket voting will throw polling stations into chaos on Election Day, with longer lines and frustrated clerks.

But if voters actually take time to read through the ballot, is that such a bad thing, even if it does takes longer to vote?

If Michigan lawmakers really want to get up to speed on elections and ease the process for the electorate, they need to pass a House bill that would make it much easier to obtain an absentee ballot. That bill was originally tie-barred to straight-ticket voting, and it’s unfortunate lawmakers broke that link.

Under the other bill, which is now in the Senate, voters would no longer need an excuse to get a ballot ahead of an election. Snyder wrote a letter to lawmakers, after signing the straight-ticket legislation, urging them to pass the absentee bill right away.

Michigan will now be among the 40 states that don’t allow straight-ticket voting. It should also be among the 37 that don’t force voters to give a reason for requesting an absentee ballot.

And while heading to the polling station and getting that “I voted” sticker may hold some sentimental sway, Michigan should look to Oregon, Washington and Colorado — the three states that have gone to mail-only elections. It’s definitely the fairest way to ensure all voters have a chance to cast their ballots.