Long lines make voting difficult for parents of young children
LANSING — The Michigan Progressive Women’s Legislative Caucus urges Gov. Rick Snyder to veto a bill passed by the Legislature that would eliminate straight-ticket voting in Michigan because it makes it more difficult for voters — especially women with young children — to get out and vote. If Senate Bill 13 is passed into law, it’s predicted the bill will significantly increase lines at polling places in Michigan, which already sees the sixth-longest voting wait times of any state in the country.
“This bill solves nothing. I have never heard someone tell me that the problem with voting is that they have the option to vote a straight ticket,” said Rep. Winnie Brinks (D-Grand Rapids), chairwoman of the Progressive Women’s Legislative Caucus. “This bill is just one more effort to put hurdles in front of voters to discourage turnout by making them encounter long lines and wait times at the poll. Long lines make voting harder for parents standing in line with a young child or two, or who have to hurry home to be back in time to meet a child coming home from school.”
Straight-ticket voting is an option used by roughly half of all Michigan voters, and is popular across party lines. Republicans, however, have been eager to get rid of the option for years, and twice passed laws to eliminate it. Both times, voters overturned the laws through a referendum vote. This time, Republicans have made the proposed law referendum-proof by attaching a token appropriation to the bill.
Democrats tried to soften the bill by adding amendments that would make voting more accessible, but all of the amendments were rejected. They included:
- An amendment from Rep. Adam Zemke (D-Ann Arbor) that would tie-bar the bill to an proposal establishing Election Day as a state holiday, making it easier for more people to spend time in line at polling places.
- An amendment from Rep. Brian Banks (D-Detroit) to tie-bar SB 13 to a proposal creating an early voting option.
- Amendments from Reps. George Darany (D-Dearborn) and Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) to tie-bar SB 13 to proposals that would allow no-reason absentee ballot voting.
- An amendment by Rep. Pam Faris (D-Clio) to strip out the token appropriation that makes SB 13 referendum-proof.
“We had an opportunity to turn a bad proposal into something that would encourage more people to vote,” Faris said. “It’s bitterly disappointing that Republicans refused to consider our amendments, and instead passed a bill that punishes single moms, working parents, adults caring for seniors and others who may need to find an extra hour of time to go and vote between leaving work and coming home to care for their families.”
Despite SB 13 finding only Republican support, Gov. Snyder has not signaled whether he intends to sign the bill or not. When asked what he thought of the legislation last week, he declined to give an opinion.
“As a new mother, I’m learning that everything changes when you have an infant to care for,” said Rep. Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit). “Between child care, sometimes working multiple jobs in order to make ends meet and other obligations, working moms aren’t likely to be able to wait in even longer lines on Election Day if SB 13 becomes law. It shouldn’t so difficult for working moms to choose to do their civic duty. I urge our governor to have compassion for parents and veto this bill.”