LANSING — State Representative Sarah Roberts (D-St. Clair Shores) said today that Republican approval of Senate Bill 13 to remove the straight-ticket voting option from Michigan ballots goes directly against what Michigan voters want. Twice before, legislation has passed to eliminate this voting option, and both times voters took the issue to the ballot and overturned the law and reinstates the straight-ticket voting option. This time, voters won’t have that option because Republicans attached a $5 million appropriation to the bill.
“Republicans took our constitutional right to hold a referendum on a law that we feel is wrong by cynically adding $5 million to SB 13 to theoretically help clerks across Michigan prepare for ballots without the straight-ticket option,” said Roberts. “In truth, this is just money added so that voters can’t vote to repeal this unfair law that will cause long lines on Election Day and make it harder for workers, senior citizens and others to exercise their right to vote.”
The straight-ticket ban would prevent voters from checking the single box at the top of the ballot in order to vote for all Democratic or Republican candidates. Clerks and township representatives who spoke in committee last week pointed out that the only measurable impact the ban would have on voters would be longer wait times and greater confusion.
Roberts and her colleagues proposed more than twenty amendments to the bill, including a Roberts amendment to allow for online voter registration. Every amendment was defeated on a party-line vote.
Republicans refused to honor the Michigan Constitution by not calling for a record roll call vote on an amendment to remove the appropriation from the bill. When the amendment was offered, Democrats clearly supported the vote. Republican leadership ruled instead that the amendment was not adopted. Democratic Floor Leader Sam Singh (D-East Lansing) then called for a record roll call vote, but Republicans ruled that his request was not properly made as a question and refused to allow the vote.
“Our request for a record roll call vote was refused because Republicans were afraid that we would win that amendment and that voters would then have a chance to again restore straight-ticket voting,” said Roberts. “This is the worst kind of game-playing to protect unbelievably bad legislation that strips Michiganders of their constitutional rights. Our constituents deserve better from their elected officials, and I will continue fighting against their shameless tactics.”