LANSING, Mich. (WOOD/AP) — Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder has signed a law eliminating the straight-party voting option from ballots, also calling on the state legislature to approve no-reason absentee voting.
Michigan was among 10 states that allowed voters support an entire ticket of one party’s candidates with a single mark. Now they can only vote race by race.
The Republican governor said Tuesday “it’s time to choose people over politics.”
Democrats say the measure is an attempt to make it harder to vote in traditionally blue voting areas, arguing the convenient option keeps lines shorter in urban areas.
“This law will make it harder for people to vote in Michigan, and that’s just plain wrong,” said Michigan AFL-CIO President Ron Bieber in a statement Tuesday. “Local clerks from all over the state testified that this bill will mean even longer lines at the polls this November – hurting our seniors, and voters who live in urban communities.”
Supporters of the plan say it gives people a chance to pay closer attention. State Rep. Jon Hoadley, D-Kalamazoo, said he thinks that is laughable.
“If you’re listening to this right now, I would be insulted that Republicans think that you don’t see, look and think about each candidate that appears on the ballot,” Hoadley said.
The law includes $5 million for additional voting booths and tabulators after clerks raised concerns that removing the option will cause longer lines. The allocation also makes the measure immune from a referendum. Voters twice before have preserved the straight-ticket option in referendums.
Litigation surrounding the issue could be forthcoming.
The governor also wants to make no-reason absentee voting available to answer the argument regarding longer lines.
The chair of the Michigan House Elections Committee, Rep. Lisa Posthumus Lyons, R-Alto, had tied a bill for no-reason absentee to the elimination of straight-ticket voting. The Senate separated the two and she did not support the final version. She said she is encouraged by the governor’s call for the absentee reform.
“I applaud the governor’s call for swift action on secure no reason absentee voting,” Lyons told 24 Hour News 8. “It’s common sense, pro-voter legislation and I’m hopeful that now the Senate will join myself and the governor and the secretary of state and the rest of my collages in the House and put people ahead of political parties.”
The Senate may take up the absentee voter reform when it returns next week.