Lawmakers ordered to turn over documents related to straight party voting law

Jan 9, 2018

A ban on straight party voting was intentionally discriminatory, according to supporters of the practice, who say new documents could prove it.

Several current and former Michigan lawmakers have been ordered to provide sworn testimony and documents linked to a straight party voting ban passed in 2015.

The law banning straight-party voting was put on hold in 2016 pending a suit which alleged it disproportionately impacted African American voters.

Mark Brewer is an Attorney for plaintiffs on the case. He said they requested lawmakers emails and documents to better understand why lawmakers passed the ban.

“We suspect that we will uncover information that this was done for a partisan reason and that the legislature knew this would have a discriminatory effect on African Americans but did it anyway.”

African-Americans overwhelmingly support Democratic candidates.

Brewer said urban districts already have long wait times to vote. Straight ticket voting helped speed up the voting process.

“Abolishing it would create much longer lines at the polls and those lines would be worse for African Americans.”

Brewer said he expects to see the documents within the next few weeks.

“The judge has said the documents have to be handed over in the next 30-45 days. We’re going to be working closely with the lawyers of those legislators to make sure they comply with the judge's order.”

Defendants on the case, including Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof, Senator David Robertson, Senator Marty Knollenberg, and Representative Mike McCready did not immediately respond to our request for comment.

Former Representative Lisa Lyons is also a defendant on the case.

Brewer said a court date for the case has not been set.