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Detroit city clerk, voting rights advocates come out against "unnecessary" elections bills

straight-party voting
Lars Plougmann
Creative Commons
The Secretary of State says 95.5% of eligible voters are registered

Detroit city clerk Janice Winfrey and voting rights advocates are denouncing a pair of election bills in the Michigan Legislature right now.

One is a state Senate bill that would restrict absentee voting hours, and ban absentee voting at satellite office locations.

Winfrey says Detroit is one of just a few Michigan cities to use satellite voting, and it’s been “very successful” there.

“So when you begin to impede that process, when you want to eliminate that process, now you’re affecting a particular group of people,” she said.

Winfrey also criticized a bill to eliminatesingle-party, straight-ticket voting, saying that will make for longer lines and more confusion, disproportionately affecting urban voters.

Michigan voters also turned down a ballot proposal banning straight-ticket voting in 2002. This new bill, however, has an appropriation attached, making it referendum-proof under Michigan law.

In the end, Winfrey said these bills simply take options away from voters. “Who would want to take away options to make the voting process easier and convenient for our voters?” she said.

Many Democrats feel that the Republican-sponsored bills are a blatant attempt to suppress Democratic-leaning voters. But Sue Smith with the Michigan League of Women Voters thinks it goes beyond that.

“We see these bills as an attempt to restrict voter rights, whether people are Republicans or Democrats,” Smith said.

Winfrey and other advocates urged Gov. Snyder to veto the bills if they come to his desk.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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