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The Speaker of the House of Representatives:
Dear Sir:- I herewith return, without approval, House bill. No. 112, file No. 25, enrolled Act No. 185.
An act to amend sections twenty-four and thirty-five of act two hundred eighty-one of the Public Acts of nineteen-hundred nine, entitled "An act relative to the nomination of party candidates for public office and delegates to political conventions, to regulate primary elections and to prescribe penalties for violations of its provisions, and to provide for the printing upon election ballots of the names of the candidates nominated under the terms of this act, and to repeal act number four of the Public Acts of the extra session of the year nineteen hundred seven, and all local primary election acts contravening the provisions of this act, except as this act otherwise provided", as amended by act two hundred seventy-nine of the Public Acts of nineteen hundred eleven and act one hundred eighteen of the Public Acts of nineteen hundred thirteen.
I disapprove House Enrolled Act No. 185 (H.B. 112, File No. 25) because it is a step backward. By having separate party ballots, the voter must advertise his politics. Secrecy of the ballot is of the utmost importance in a free country that aims to give to every citizen the right to express his political choice without fear of being penalized.
It puts a limitation of 5% of the total votes cast by a party as a necessity for nomination. This works a hardship to minority party candidates. Minority parties in a democracy are entitled to decent consideration. Powerful political parties always have a tendency to ride roughshod over minority parties in order to perpetuate and strengthen their reign.
It requires the inspector to enter the name of the voter upon his list together with the name of the party the ballot of which is requested, thus reviving the obnoxious enrollment feature. Under the former enrollment system many self-respecting citizens refused to wear the label of any political party. They preferred to deprive themselves of some of the privileges of citizenship rather than stultify themselves by wearing a tag.
The fundamental feature of the primary is to give the voter the freest possible expression of his will, and this without unnecessary publicity.
The Republican Legislature of 1913 recognized the fundamental rights of the citizens of Michigan and acted accordingly. The Republican Legislature of 1915 repudiates these acts. If the Legislature of 1913 was right, the Legislature of 1915 is wrong.
This bill is reactionary and unjust. It condemns political freedom and puts a premium on cowardice and party despotism.
As already stated, this bill cures no existing evils. On the contrary it reestablishes evils that Michigan citizens have long tried to cure.
I therefore decline to sign this bill.
Yours very truly,
Woodbridge N. Ferris