Senate Approves Vaupel's Bills To Remove Political Party Vignettes From Ballot
June 29, 2017
A local lawmaker’s bills ending a requirement that election ballots show small designs or portraits that represent the political party of each candidate have won final approval.
House Bill 4177, sponsored by Handy Township Republican Hank Vaupel, removes the requirement of political party vignettes being printed on election ballots. It is tie-barred with HB 4178, which removes the reference to party vignette in the Michigan campaign finance act. The Republican-led Senate approved the legislation 26-9 Wednesday and local clerks were said to be in favor of removing the vignettes from ballots, which have been mandated for about 125 years. Supporters say the symbols don't help voters and polling places now have headphones to help voters who can't read. Vaupel previously told WHMI the concern is that voters can become confused by the pictures, circle or mark one and think they voted – adding if they’ve marked anything else on the ballot, the machines will still accept it - leading to delays at the polls.
The bills are related to Michigan's 2015 ban against voters supporting an entire ticket of candidates from one party by marking a single box. A federal judge blocked the law. But the legal fight is ongoing and some have said eliminating straight-ticket voting without removing the vignettes would confuse voters. Democrats voted against legislation. (JM)