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House committee votes to end straight-ticket voting

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The Secretary of State says local jurisdictions and school districts in 82 of Michigan's 83 counties are conducting elections today.

A state House committee has adopted a bill to eliminate the straight ticket voting option on election ballots. And the committee linked the measure’s future to a bill to make it easier to vote absentee.

Republicans say it’s a compromise that will require voters to educate themselves about candidates.

“I believe it’s important that we vote for people, not political parties,” said Representative Lisa Lyons, R-Alto. “I also think we need to be cognizant of what impacts that could have on our polling locations on Election Day.”

Clerks say voting straight-party can make lines move more quickly on Election Day. But the practice is also considered an advantage for Democrats, who typically benefit from higher turnout. 

Representative Jon Hoadley, D-Kalamazoo, said it’s an effort by Republicans to influence election results next year.  

“This whole thing just reeks of partisan politics,” he said.

Hoadley says there are other Republican-sponsored bills that would roll back some efforts to make it easier to vote absentee.

The measure also includes two appropriations – including $5 million for clerks to buy new voting machines. The appropriations also make the bills immune to referendum challenges. 

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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