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Appeals court says voters can vote straight-ticket in November

Election polling station sign
Wikimedia | Tom Arthur | CC BY 2.0

Michigan voters will still be able to vote for a political party’s entire slate of candidates with a single mark on the ballot, under a ruling Wednesday by a federal appeals court.

The appeals court upheld a lower court that said the state can’t ban the straight-ticket voting option from the November ballot.

The three-judge panel of the US Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed it places an undue burden on voters in large cities with big minority populations and crowded polling places.

“When you take away this ability to vote straight-party, and two and a half to three million people who have to vote every position, that means it’s going to take longer to fill out the ballot, which means the lines get longer,” said Mark Brewer, a former Michigan Democratic Party chair and one of the attorneys who challenged the ban.

Michigan has allowed the straight-ticket voting option since 1891. The ban on straight-ticket voting was adopted on party-line votes by the Legislature and signed by Governor Rick Snyder in January.

State Attorney General Bill Schuette plans to ask the entire Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals to review the decision.

His office issued this statement: “Michigan is no different than the 40 other states that have eliminated straight ticket voting. We will continue to defend the laws of the State of Michigan and plan to file an emergency appeal to the 6th Circuit for an en banc review by the full court.”

State elections officials would like the issue resolved before the early September deadline to finalize ballots.

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