You are on page 1of 2
EET eon Nt a olor an ela To: Ruth Johnson, Michigan Secretary of State October 9, 2018 Re: Elimination of Straight Party Voting Option Dear Secretary of State Johnson, As you know, for the first time in 127 years Michigan voters will receive their ballot in the 2018 general election without the straight party voting option. You are receiving this letter on behalf ‘of numerous voting rights, civic engagement, and government accountability groups to demand that you release a plan on how your office will educate voters about this substantial change. Election results reveal that half of Michigan voters of all political persuasions used straight party voting consistently over the past elections. In 2016, nearly half of Washtenaw County voters used the option’, in Wayne County more than 477,000 voters (59.5 percent) used the option, in ‘Macomb County more than 197,000 voters used the option, and in Ottawa County nearly 55, percent of voters used it’. In 2012, more than 155,000 voters used the option in Kent County. Supermajorities of Affican American voters use it as well. Without the option of straight party voting and with the anticipated increased turnout for the 2018 general election, we are deeply concerned that not enough has been done by your office to educate voters about this very significant change. As the chief administrator of elections in Michigan, it is your legal duty to inform voters of these changes. It is increasingly concerning that we have not seen any education as of yet from your office as many clerks prepare to send out absentee ballots over the next week. Many of these voters who are accustomed to having the straight party voting option will receive these ballots without the necessary education, unless something is done immediately. It is also concerning that the spokesperson of your department has appeared in media not fully explaining what the change means, and actually blaming voters for not voting the entire ballot. In a Michigan Radio report from September 17, 2018, Fred Woodhams is quoted, “We'll be putting out more communications to the public to educate them about voting the whole ballot, which really they should have been doing anyway for nonpartisan races and ballot questions." We take issue with this statement because it does not take into account that not only do voters have to understand they must vote in every race, they also have to understand that voting for a political party's nominee at the top of the ticket does not mean they are voting for every candidate for that party. It is quite possible that a voter may reach this conclusion since the straight party voting option has always been at the top of the ballot. Ballot spoilage due to this may also lead to ballot shortages. There simply has been no communication from your office to ‘voters about this major change. 517.999.3646 | WWW.ENGAGEMICHIGAN.ORG 6 ENGAGE CHBGAN We ask that you respond to this letter with details on how you plan to quickly educate the public about the elimination of straight party voting. We are concerned that voters receiving absentee ballots will not understand the change and in-person voters will go into the voting booth without necessary information causing them to vote incorrectly, spoil their ballots, or have questions about the change inside the polling place, all of which will lead to an increase in wait times and create even longer lines especially for African-American voters. ‘We are happy to work with you to ensure the education materials reflect what community members have communicated to us and look forward to your immediate response, Sincerely, Di LA Sf Engage Michigan On behalf of the organizations below: A. Philip Randolph Institute ~ Michigan ACLU of Michigan Campus Vote Project Engage Michigan Fair Elections Center Grand Rapids A. Philip Randolph Institute Michigan State Conference ~ NAACP Michigan Voice National Network for Arab American Communities Grand Rapids PROACTIVE Sierra Club — Michigan Chapter Sources: Washtenaw County Clerk — 2016 Election Results Wayne County Clerk — 2016 Election Results Macomb County Clerk ~ 2016 Election Results Ottawa County Clerk — 2016 Election Results MLive - "People may get angry' with long lines under straight-ticket voting ban — 12/11/2015 Michigan Radio - Lack of straight party voting option predicted to confuse absentee ballot voters ~ 9/17/2018 yeep 2 YLT Bs ool PVN 0 a eo LoL ERAN Neate ey Relic} | o