Bill Ballenger at Capitol Issues Forum 5/26
Ballenger pointed out Michigan has 9,000 offices up for election in November, ranging from the presidential race to state House seats to library board members. Michigan voters are overwhelmed with the number of elected officials they have to vote on, noting research that shows nearly one third of voters abandon the ballot before they reach the end of it, meaning votes are not cast for many offices. This is also the first time in Michigan history that straight-ticket voting is not in effect which could further complicate voting outcomes, said Ballenger.
Ballenger also pointed out there are currently no ballot proposals filed for November, although citizens have until June 1 to submit petitions. If everything remains as is, he said it would be the first time since 1988 there are no citizen initiative ballot proposals, possibly altering voting numbers come November. When asked specifically about the open seats in the Michigan House of Representatives, Ballenger said presidential election years tend to produce better results for Democrats in general elections and that the Democrats have a shot this year to win the nine seats needed to take over the House majority.
Ballenger said he has never seen two presidential candidates with such unfavorable ratings as both Trump and Clinton. Despite their low approval ratings, he believes both candidates still have factors working in their favor. Clinton’s strengths revolve around her vast political experience and voting demographics, especially in Michigan, while Trump’s strong point is his appeal as an outsider in a year where voters are dissatisfied with the system.