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Lawmakers Can Be Questioned About Straight-Party Voting Ban

LANSING, Mich. (WWJ/AP) - A federal judge says some Michigan lawmakers must sit for interviews about a law that bans straight-party voting.

The questions will be limited to what they might have said about their motives to people outside their offices. U.S. Magistrate Judge Mona Majzoub (MAY'-zoub) says communications between lawmakers and their staff are protected.

The depositions are part of a lawsuit. Straight-party voting means making a single mark on a ballot to pick candidates of one party. Critics of the ban say it violates the rights of black voters in urban areas who typically vote for Democrats.

A judge suspended the law in 2016, but the litigation is ongoing.

Majzoub's decision affects Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof; Sen. Marty Knollenberg; Sen. David Robertson; Rep. Michael McCready; and former Rep. Lisa Lyons.

While 40 other states prohibit straight-party voting, attorney Mark Brewer — who is a former Michigan Democratic party chair — telling WWJ in 2016 -- that Michigan is a special case.

"These other states ...  they have early voting, they have no reason absentee voting. They have other ways that people can vote and in Michigan we don't have any of those things," Brewer said.

"Voting is very difficult here. And so what happens is straight-party voting makes it easier for the millions of voters who have to go to the polls in election day to vote," he said. "We also have one of the longest ballots and one of the longest waiting times in the entire country."

© Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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