Yanez Legislation Flips the Ballot

Reordering political races could increase voter participation

LANSING — State Representative Henry Yanez (D-Sterling Heights) introduced House Bill 5709 today that would move partisan offices to the bottom of the Michigan ballot in an effort to increase voter participation now that straight-ticket voting has been banned.

“Even during presidential years, voter fatigue is a problem, and without the option of straight-ticket voting, it is likely to get worse when people only vote a part of the ballot,” said Yanez. “By flipping the ballot and moving ballot issues to the top, nonpartisan races next, followed by partisan races and the presidential race at the bottom, I believe we will see increased voter participation in often over-looked races.”

Yanez explained that in his House District 25, voter fatigue from those who voted in 2012 for president but didn’t vote in the state representative race averaged around 6 to 7 percent per precinct. Without the straight-ticket voting option, it’s reasonable to expect voter fatigue will increase and fewer votes will be cast in the races now listed at the bottom of the ballot. Currently, the ballot lists partisan races first, followed by non-partisan races and then ballot questions. Yanez’s legislation would flip that order. Within each section, each race would be placed in succession based on the size of a race’s representative jurisdiction and whether the race is local, state or federal. Generally speaking, the larger the jurisdiction, the further down the ballot the race is placed.

“We should all be able to agree that increased voter participation is a good thing,” said Yanez. “If we can’t have straight-ticket voting, then we should at least create a ballot that encourages voting the entire ballot.”