Gov. Snyder signs law eliminating straight-party voting

- Governor Rick Snyder on Tuesday signed a law eliminating straight-party voting from ballots, saying the move puts "people over politics" and joins Michigan with 40 other states that no longer let voters support an entire ticket of one party's candidate with a single mark.

Now voters will only be able to vote race by race.

"It's time to choose people over politics," the Republican said in written statement. "To alleviate concerns that this change could lead to longer wait times for voters, I'm asking the Legislature to enact secured no-reason absentee voting."

Democrats have accused majority GOP lawmakers of seeking partisan gain, particularly in down-ballot races, by doing away with the convenient, popular straight-ticket option.

Nearly half of the voters in Michigan's proverbial bellwether, suburban Detroit's Oakland County, cast straight-party ballots in the 2014 general election. In Wayne County, home to the Democratic stronghold of Detroit, the straight-ticket mark was chosen on nearly 59 percent of ballots.

The law includes $5 million for additional voting booths and tabulators after clerks raised concerns that removing the option will cause longer lines. The allocation also makes the measure immune from a referendum. Voters twice before have preserved the straight-ticket option in referendums.

The legislation won narrow approval in December after Senate Republicans uncoupled it from a House-passed bill favored by clerks that would have let voters cast an absentee ballot without having to meet specific criteria.

In a letter to legislators, Snyder urged the Senate to update Michigan's "archaic" absentee voting law. Absentee voters must be 60 years or older; be out of town when the polls are open; be an election worker; or be unable to vote on Election Day due to a physical disability, religious tenets or incarceration.

"This will not only provide greater access to the polls, it will also help alleviate long lines at the ballot box," he wrote.

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