Fate of straight-ticket ban, no-reason absentee voting uncertain in state Senate
A bill to allow no-reason absentee voting in Michigan could have a tough time in the state Senate.
The state House approved House Bill 4724 late Wednesday night. It also tied the bill to one eliminating the straight-ticket voting option on Michigan ballots. That means one bill can’t become law without the other.
That could be a problem in the state Senate because Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof, R-West Olive, opposes no-reason absentee voting.
“He would prefer us to keep our focus on Election Day as the time that we’re counting our votes,” said Amber McCann, Meekhof’s spokesperson.
“Election Day itself is something that should be held sacred. Essentially what we’re doing is opening it up to Election Week – and where does it end?”
McCann says Republicans have not yet discussed the bill in caucus meetings, so it’s not clear what kind of support it has. But she says some members share Meekhof’s skepticism.
“There’s some concern in the caucus that those two issues don’t belong together, that they’re something that should be debated and handled separately, that they should not be moving as a unit,” she told reporters on Thursday.
Local clerks say eliminating straight-ticket voting would create longer lines at the polls. They say no-reason absentee voting would help reduce those wait times.
The Senate already approved Senate Bill 13 to eliminate straight-ticket voting before the House sent it back with the tie-bar to no-reason absentee voting.
McCann says Senate Republicans are considering separating the bills and sending the straight-ticket elimination bill back to the House by itself.
Under the Republican-sponsored no-reason absentee voting bill, voters would still have to apply for their ballots in person. Many Democrats say they’d prefer legislation that would allow people to get absentee ballots remotely.