Michigan Supporters of Straight-Ticket Device Will Amend their Complaint to Charge that Bill Eliminating Straight-Ticket was Motivated by Intent to Discriminate Against Black Voters

As noted earlier, in December 2015 the Michigan legislature repealed the straight-ticket device, but in 2016 a U.S. District Court granted an injunction forcing the state to keep the device in place for the November 2016 election. The issue of whether the U.S. Constitution requires Michigan to have a straight-ticket device is not settled yet.

On January 19, the U.S. District Court granted permission for the supporters of the straight-ticket device to amend their complaint so as to allege that when the legislature repealed the straight-ticket device, that action was motivated with the intent to harm black voters. It appears that the supporters of the straight-ticket device feel their case, as outlined in their earlier complaint, needs to be strengthened, and the way to strengthen the case is to show that the legislature acted with discriminatory intent. The state government defendants had argued against permitting the complaint to be amended, but Judge Gershwin Drain is permitting the amended complaint. However, he denied permission for the opponents to also amend their complaint to include a charge that the repeal of the device violates the First Amendment.

Oklahoma Ballot Access Bills Now Also Introduced in House as Well as Senate

The Oklahoma bills to improve ballot access that were introduced in the State Senate a few days ago are also now introduced in the House. Representative Jon Echols (R-Oklahoma City) introduced the same bills that Senator David Holt had introduced in the Senate. HB 1563 eases the presidential independent petition, and the petition for the presidential nominee of an unqualified party, to 5,000 signatures or a fee of $5,000. HB 1565 makes it easier for a party to remain ballot-qualified. Thanks to E. Zachary Knight for this news.

South Dakota Bill to Let Independent Candidates for President Use a Stand-in for Vice-President

The South Dakota State Board of Elections has arranged for HB 1037 to be introduced by the South Dakota House Committee on Local Government. The bill permits an independent presidential candidate to use a stand-in for vice-president on his or her petition. The law says if the vice-presidential candidate named on the petition resigns, the presidential candidate can replace him or her with the new nominee, as long as that is done by the second Tuesday in August.

The bill gives the same freedom for an independent candidate for Governor to use a stand-in for Lieutenant Governor.

In 1980, South Dakota had been one of only two states that wouldn’t let John Anderson use a stand-in for vice-president. Anderson had sued some other states over this issue, and had won. But he didn’t get around to suing South Dakota, so the November 1980 ballot listed his stand-in instead of his actual vice-presidential running mate.

The bill also makes it clear that the presidential primary is voluntary for any ballot-qualified party.