More Power for Your Vote?

By: Tony Tagliavia Email
By: Tony Tagliavia Email

Michigan voters could have a bigger say in who'll be on the 2008 presidential ballot.

That bigger say would come with a plan to set the state's primary elections for January 15, injecting Michigan's opinions into the contest much earlier and likely bringing candidates to the state.

Paul Abramson, a political science professor at Michigan State University says the move could give Michigan voters particular influence on the more wide-open Republican race. And what about the tighter Democratic one?

"It marginally gives them greater impact," Abramson said.

With a vote today, the Michigan Senate took a step toward create two closed parties in January.

"We've got unique issues here," Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop (R-Rochester) said. "We think the presidential candidates should come here ... and meet our people."

And Bishop says the move would bring more voters to the polls.

Although the primaries would be closed -- that is, only voters registered as belonging to a party could vote in its primary -- other options would have more limited participation. Michigan would have a caucus for Democrats and a nominating convention for Republicans.

Senate Minority Leader Mark Schauer (D-Battle Creek) says he supports the concept of moving the primary up but, "we didn't support the bills because they still need work."

The way the primaries are set up in the Senate plan would not comply with Democratic National Committee rules according to state party leaders.

Some Democrats want Michigan to stick with the caucus idea, but Schauer says he's hopeful a compromise can be reached.

House Speaker Andy Dillon tells News 10 his chamber could take up the issue next week. National parties would likely have to sign off on the changes. And Paul Abramson does have a warning for state leaders.

"You can't keep rolling things backward indefinitely," he said.

If Michigan makes its move, states like Iowa and New Hampshire could move their contests even earlier.


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