Michigan seeks to reinstate ban on
straight-ticket voting for fall election
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[August 11, 2016]
(Reuters) - Michigan's attorney
general has asked a federal appeals court to reinstate a law banning
straight-ticket voting - the practice of using one mark to vote for all
candidates from one party - in time for the November general election.
The law, passed by Michigan's majority Republican legislature and signed
by Republican Governor Rick Snyder, was temporarily suspended in federal
district court last month. A coalition of civil rights and labor groups
had argued that it would keep African-Americans from voting.
On Wednesday, Attorney General William Schuette, also a Republican,
filed two emergency motions with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth
Circuit, saying the law would not place a burden on voters or violate
the U.S. Voting Rights Act, as the coalition had alleged in a lawsuit
aimed at overturning the legislation.
"Forty other states ban straight-ticket voting and no case anywhere has
ever suggested it was unconstitutional or violative of the voting rights
act," Schuette wrote in the motions.
He has asked for the law to be reinstated in time for the November
presidential election, while the lawsuit is being fought in court.
The Michigan law is among a number of state voting rules that have been
fought in the courts ahead of the November election, along with stricter
voter identification laws in some states and laws on the voting rights
of felons in others.
Citing a report by a specialist with the U.S. Census bureau that found
that African-Americans were more likely to use straight-ticket voting
than white voters, U.S. District Court Eastern District of Michigan
Judge Gershwin Drain last month granted a preliminary injunction sought
by civil rights and labor groups who sued Secretary of State Ruth
Johnson in an effort to overturn the law.
[to top of second column]
Michigan Governor Rick Snyder pauses as he speaks at North Western
High School in Flint, a city struggling with the effects of
lead-poisoned drinking water in Michigan, May 4, 2016.
Straight-ticket voting, often favored by labor groups and political
parties who recommend voters support a slate of candidates, was
common in the United States for much of the 20th Century.
Opponents complained the practice made it difficult for voters who
wished to choose among candidates of different parties and that
removing the option forces voters to make decisions based on
criteria other than party affiliation.
Today, only nine states offer voters the option of voting for a
party's entire slate with one mark, according to the National
Conference of State Legislatures.
(Reporting by Sharon Bernstein; Editing by David Gregorio)
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