State of Elections

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Tag: Michigan

Texas Follows the Trend of Eliminating Straight Ticket Voting

In June, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed House Bill 25 into law, which will eliminate the straight ticket voting option beginning in 2020. In the November 2016 elections, an estimated 63% of voters cast straight ticket ballots. The biggest selling point among supporters of the law revolves around the idea that voters will work to be more informed once it is in place, as the current straight ticket system allows voters to vote blindly for one party. A proposed amendment, requiring Department of Justice confirmation of the constitutionality of the measure prior to removal of straight ticket voting, did not pass with the bill. Continue reading

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

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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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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