This week, in yet another setback for GOP voter suppression efforts, the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeal upheld a District Court preliminary injunction that prevented Michigan Republicans from eliminating "straight-party" voting in the Great Lake State. It did so because it found that the plaintiffs in Michigan State Randolph Inst. v. Johnson would likely prevail in their contention that the MI GOP's elimination of straight-party voting violated both the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA).
"Straight-party voting," the appellate panel explained, "allows a voter to vote for all candidates of their desired political party by making a single mark designating the selection of that political party, rather than voting for each partisan candidate individually."
The court does not suggest that all states must make it available. In fact, many states have never made that form of voting available to their respective electorates. But, the court observed, "straight-party voting has...been available to Michigan citizens for an uninterrupted period of 125 years" --- from 1891 - 2016.
Straight-party voting in Michigan is so popular that voters twice rejected efforts to eliminate it via the referendum process --- first in 1964 and again in 2001. And while, overall, half of the MI electorate takes advantage of the straight-ticket option, this swift and efficient alternative to selecting individual candidates from a long-list of offices on a ballot has been disproportionately relied upon by African-Americans ("67% in 2012, and 73.5% in 2014"), the 6th Circuit panel observed.
However, with their own ability to retain power at stake in 2016 --- especially after the scandalous poisoning of Flint's drinking water --- Michigan Republicans were not inclined to permit either efficiency or popularity to stand in the way...