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Category: Michigan (page 1 of 2)

Keeping Things Straight: Michigan’s Fight Over Straight-Ticket Voting

By: Simon Zagata

For over 125 years, Michigan residents had the option of killing many birds with one stone, at least at the ballot box. This option is called straight-ticket voting, and it allows voters to fill in one bubble on a ballot for Democrats or Republicans, instead of filling in individual bubbles for every race. Proponents of straight-ticket voting claim that it makes the voting process faster, which helps eliminate long lines at the polls. In January 2016, Governor Rick Snyder signed into law a bill that eliminated Michigan’s straight-ticket voting option.

The bill passed along mostly partisan lines, with Republicans claiming that it would encourage nonpartisan voting and force voters to be informed on individual candidates, instead of voting by party. Democrats, on the other hand, saw it as a bare attack on voters in urban areas like Detroit and Flint, where long waits at polling places were already common. Straight-ticket voting has been a boon to Democrats in past elections, with more people voting for Democrats on straight tickets than Republicans. The Michigan Democratic Party was not alone in its concern with the law.

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Has your Michigan signature expired?

By: Simon Zagata

What do milk, eggs, yogurt, chicken and your signature on a petition have in common? As of June 6, 2016, they all have expiration dates; at least in Michigan.

In the U.S., 24 states and the District of Columbia allow citizens to introduce new laws through petitions. In Michigan, citizens can propose new state laws or constitutional amendments through petitions, if they get enough signatures. Once the petition has enough signatures, the proposed ballot measure goes to the legislature. If the legislature does not pass the proposed law within 40 days, the statute goes on the ballot, and voters get to decide its fate. If the ballot measure receives a majority of “yes” votes, it becomes law.
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Flip and Flop: Federal judge lifts Michigan state law banning “Ballot Selfies,” but Sixth Circuit reverses four days later

By: Angela M. Evanowski

On October 24, 2016, famous singer and actor Justin Timberlake found himself in trouble after posting a “ballot selfie” on his two social media accounts, Twitter and Instagram. Timberlake, who is registered to vote in Tennessee, flew from California to his home voting county and posted the selfies in order to encourage millennials and fans to vote. However, to the surprise of Timberlake, the state of Tennessee earlier this year passed a law banning voters from taking photographs or videos during the voting process. Luckily, for this famous former boy-band member, he is not going to face any criminal charges or punishment for posting his ballot selfies. Continue reading

Why Michigan should remove restrictions on who may cast an absentee ballot

By: Sara Krauss

Michigan Absentee Voting On the Rise

Michigan voters are voting via absentee ballot in increasingly high numbers. In the November 2016 election, approximately one-fourth of Michigan voters used an absentee ballot to case their votes. In the August 2016 primary election, that number was even higher in many counties. In Kent County, 43 percent of votes were cast via absentee ballots; in Grand Rapids, 40 percent of votes were absentee; in Ottawa County, roughly one-third of voters voted via an absentee ballot.

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Michigan Lawsuit Challenges State Ballot Selfie Ban

By: Sara Krauss

In the November 2012 election, Michigan voter Joel Crookston posted a photo of part of his completed ballot on Facebook, demonstrating his write in-vote for a friend for the position of Michigan State University trustee. On September 9, 2016, Pillar of Law filed a lawsuit on his behalf, arguing that the state laws requiring he forfeit his vote, and potentially receive a fine or jail time for the misdemeanor, is unconstitutional.

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The Will of the People: Michigan’s Ballot Initiative to Allow By-Mail Voting

Alexander Hamilton once said, “A share in the sovereignty of the state, which is exercised by the citizens at large, in voting at elections is one of the most important rights of the subject, and in a republic ought to stand foremost in the estimation of the law.” In Michigan, the citizens have incredible power to voice their opinion and influence the sovereignty of their state. Through initiative, Michiganders may propose either a constitutional amendment, which does not require state legislative approval before being placed on the ballot, or state statutes, which must first be submitted to the state legislature for approval before being placed on the ballot. In order to participate in the initiative process, Michigan does not even require that the petitioner register with the state, but rather only requires that the petitioner report campaign contributions in excess of $500. However, petitioners may submit their proposal to the Bureau of Elections in order to greatly reduce the chance that formatting errors will prevent the proposal from being accepted.

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Striking the Right Balance: Voter ID Laws in Michigan

By: Jason M. Kowalski

The right to a voice in the political process is the most fundamental aspect of American government. “No taxation without representation” was the rallying cry for American Revolution and the ideal that every person should have an equal vote and equal access to vote is one our country still aspires to reach. It is no mystery then, especially in light of our country’s terrible track record in disenfranchising minorities, that Voter ID laws have been the source of such controversy. There are reasonable arguments on both sides of the issue. Advocates argue that such laws ensure that only those who are eligible to vote can do so and protect the integrity of the electoral process with, for most Americans, minimal intrusion. Opponents point out, that such requirements tend to have disparate impact on minority groups who have less access to the IDs themselves or the means to obtain them, including transportation, documentation and sometimes the funds necessary to purchase them.

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Move Over Motor-Voter: Michigan’s Pursuit of Statewide “Renter-Voter” Law

By Staff Writer

In 2013, the city of East Lansing, Michigan passed an ordinance requiring landlords to provide their tenants with voter information and registration applications when the tenant first moves into the unit. Home to Michigan State University and its roughly 49,000 student population, East Lansing (by a 4 to 1 City Council vote ) took novel steps to help ensure students are able to register to vote at their college residence. While some landlords believed the ordinance was “way off base,” East Lansing Mayor Nathan Triplett dubbed the ordinance a “no brainer.” Then-City Clerk Marie McKenna noted that the ordinance would remind students who recently moved from one city residence to another to update their registration. Although in the neighboring state of Wisconsin the legislature recently passed legislation preempting an almost identical city ordinance, some Michigan legislators are aiming to expand this landlord duty statewide.

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The High Cost of Recounts in Michigan: Will Candidates Take the Risk?

by Jillian, Contributor

A new state bill may make it more difficult for Michigan candidates to pursue recounts after elections. On September 19, 2013, the Michigan House of Representatives passed House Bill 4833 (HB 4833). The bill received bi-partisan support and had a high passage rate of 95-9. The Michigan Senate is now considering the bill. Continue reading

Emergency Managers: An unconstitutional power grab or necessary evil?

by Lauren Fibel

When a city or school district is unable to pay their bills, and a state’s credit rating is in jeopardy as a result, what options do states have? On November 6th,  Michigan voters will decide the fate of Public Act 4, which Governor Rick Snyder signed into law in March of 2011. Public Act 4 allows the state government to appoint emergency managers for those cities or school districts who are in danger of defaulting on their obligations. Controversially, these emergency managers can act in place of the elected government officials and are allowed to act in what they determine is the best manner for the city. Emergency managers are allowed to renegotiate or terminate the school district’s or city’s contracts, sell city or school district property, acquire debt to be paid back by tax payers and even determine what services and expenditures the city will continue to provide. Currently, more than three cities and two school districts in Michigan are governed by emergency managers, yet some citizens feel that this type of appointment is an unconstitutional power grabContinue reading

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