Procedures allowing Michigan voters to easily cast straight-ticket ballots look likely to remain in place for this fall’s election after a federal appeals court refused to restore a law that would have ended the practice.
A three-judge panel of the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals issued an opinion Wednesday declining the state’s request to overturn a judge’s order finding that the straight-ticket voting option was heavily relied on by African-Americans and that the state’s attempt to ban it appears to violate both the U.S. Constitution and the Voting Rights Act.
The dispute over the 2015 Michigan ban is one of numerous battles being fought out in federal courts over election-law changes that could affect the outcome of contests on the ballot this November.
The appeals court ruling did not slam the door on Michigan’s efforts to end straight-ticket voting, but the judges said the state presented no evidence in the lower court to rebut experts who claimed that ending the practice could dissuade voters by lengthening lines and creating confusion, especially in heavily black communities….
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, a Republican, plans to ask the full bench of the 6th Circuit to issue a stay that would restore the law ending straight-ticket voting.
“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,” Schuette said in a statement.
Gilman issued a concurring opinion noting that some briefs filed in the case dismissed the experts’ conclusions as junk science, but he said state officials had not sought to counter those claims with evidence at the preliminary stage of the suit.