WASHINGTON (UPI) — The Supreme Court on Friday declined to hear a request by the state of Michigan to enforce a 2015 law that bans straight-ticket voting, a longstanding tradition in the state.
The justices voted 6-2 not to hear the case and offered no reason for their decisions. Justices Samuel Alito Jr. and Clarence Thomas said they would have granted the state’s request for a hearing.
Straight-ticket voting allows voters to select all the candidates running for office for a single party by checking one box. Civil rights groups who challenged the law said the ballot option is used mainly by black voters who tend to vote straight Democrat and outlawing straight-ticket voting would have the effect of making voting more difficult in majority black precincts. Lawyers argued eliminating straight-ticket voting, which has been a practice in Michigan since 1891, would confuse voters, leading to longer lines in minority precincts.
Straight-ticket voting is only allowed in 10 states, the Washington Post reports. Voters in Michigan have twice rejected ballot measures that would have done away with it.
Proponents of the law argue requiring voters to evaluate all candidates individually would lead to fewer voters ignoring nonpartisan ballot referendums that are not included when a voter checks off their preferred party line.
The practice is widely used in the state. MLive.com reported about half of all ballots in the state used straight-ticket voting in 2012. About 30 percent of those ballots were straight-ticket Democratic votes and 19 percent were straight-ticket Republican votes.
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