Michigan proposal to expand voter access on November ballot: What you need to know

'Promote The Vote' seeks to make voting easier in Michigan

"I Voted" stickers handed out at polling places. (Getty)

Michigan voters will decide on a proposal to expand voting access in the state on the November ballot.

The "Promote The Vote" ballot measure seeks to expand voting options and proposes automatic voter registration in Michigan.

Here's a deeper look at the "Promote The Vote" ballot proposal:

What is Promote The Vote?

Promote the Vote is a broad coalition striving to reducing barriers to voting for all eligible Michiganders through a ballot proposal. By reducing barriers to voting and making our elections more secure, our democracy will better serve all Americans and our laws will better reflect the will of the people. Everyone deserves to have their vote secure and counted.

Related: Michigan statewide ballot proposals for 2018 November election: What to know

What will passage do in Michigan?

If adopted this ballot proposal will remove barriers to voting and ensure that every voter’s ballot is secure and counted on Election Day by:

  • Protecting the right to vote a secret ballot
  • Ensuring military service members and overseas voters get their ballots in time for their votes to count
  • Providing voters with the option to vote straight party
  • Automatically registering citizens to vote at the Secretary of State’s office unless the citizen declines
  • Allowing a citizen to register to vote until 15 days before an election by mail or in person. After that, citizens may register to vote in person with proof of residency up to and on Election Day.
  • Providing all registered voters access to an absentee ballot for any reason
  • Ensuring the accuracy and integrity of elections by auditing election results

Who is behind the ballot proposal?

Some of the partners behind the ballot drive include:

  • League of Women Voters of Michigan
  • NAACP – Detroit Branch
  • NAACP – Michigan State Conference
  • ACLU of Michigan
  • Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce
  • United Auto Workers
  • Michigan State AFL-CIO
  • Police Officers Association of Michigan
  • Sierra Club, Michigan Chapter
  • American Federation of Teachers – Michigan
  • Michigan League of Conversation Voters
  • Michigan Education Association
  • Jewish Community Relations Council/American Jewish Committee

Why is it needed? 

PROTECTING THE RIGHT TO VOTE A SECRET BALLOT

The right to cast a secret ballot is a core value in our democracy. Every voter has the right to keep who they voted for a secret from absolutely everyone. In recent years, there have been extensive requests for voter data by the federal government which concerns many Michiganders. Some states have adopted provisions eroding the secrecy of the ballot. To avoid any erosion in the right to privacy in voting, Michigan must clearly and affirmatively provide the right to a secret ballot in the constitution

ENSURING MILITARY SERVICE MEMBERS AND OVERSEAS VOTERS GET THEIR BALLOTS IN TIME FOR THEIR VOTES TO COUNT

Members of our military fight to protect our democracy, and they should have a say in that democracy. Yet, military and overseas voters struggle the most to make their voices heard in our elections. Their ballots are the most likely to be rejected, and this occurs most often because their ballots were not returned in time. Michigan’s constitution does not specifically protect military and overseas voters. This amendment will ensure that it does, and that our election officials get these ballots out on time every year, so they can be returned and counted.

PROVIDING VOTERS WITH THE OPTION TO VOTE STRAIGHT PARTY

Michigan has had straight party voting since 1891 and more than 50 percent of voters used it in 2016. However, legislators in Michigan continue to put straight party voting on the chopping block. In the past two elections, voters in Michigan endured the 6th and 12th longest lines in the country respectively. Allowing our legislature to eliminate the option to vote straight party would mean even longer lines, which will make it harder for busy families who simply cannot wait hours to vote. Safeguarding straight party voting in our constitution is the best way to ensure continued efficiency in our elections.

AUTOMATICALLY REGISTERING CITIZENS TO VOTE AT THE SECRETARY OF STATE’S OFFICE UNLESS THE CITIZEN DECLINES

Automatic voter registration is a small, common sense change that will make registering to vote at the Secretary of State more efficient. By registering more voters at the Secretary of State, local communities will avoid having to process costly paper voter registrations each year, increase the accuracy of the voting rolls by reducing data entry errors and bring Michigan in line with nine other states that have adopted this common sense reform. Even with automatic voter registration, voters always have the right to decline to be registered.

ALLOWING A CITIZEN TO REGISTER TO VOTE UNTIL 15 DAYS BEFORE AN ELECTION BY MAIL OR IN PERSON. AFTER THAT, CITIZENS MAY REGISTER TO VOTE IN PERSON WITH PROOF OF RESIDENCY UP TO AND ON ELECTION DAY.

The citizens of Michigan are more mobile than ever before and they need a modern voting system that meets their needs. Michigan is one of only 14 states with a voter registration deadline 30 days or more prior to Election Day. That may have made sense years ago, but today Michigan must follow the lead of other states including 19 states that have moved their voter registration deadline to 15 days or less.

In addition, we need to make sure that qualified citizens are not denied the right to vote on Election Day because of an error in the voter registration rolls. Voters who are improperly or erroneously purged from the voter rolls, need to know that if they appear in person and provide proof of residency that they will be able to cast their ballot. Thirteen states and the District of Columbia already allow voters to register to vote on Election Day. This includes Minnesota, Wisconsin and Maine, which have had this opportunity since the 1970s. It is time for Michigan to ensure every qualified citizen is able to cast a ballot on Election Day.

PROVIDING ALL REGISTERED VOTERS ACCESS TO AN ABSENTEE BALLOT FOR ANY REASON

Michigan has fallen behind the rest of the country by limiting most voters to voting on Election Day. All Michigan voters deserve the freedom to choose whether to cast their ballot on or before Election Day. The current law, with only six reasons for obtaining an absentee ballot, leaves out busy working parents, rural voters who live far from the polls, anyone who would like more time to review their ballot and educate themselves about the issues. Allowing all registered voters access to an absentee ballot will also reduce lines for voters who choose to vote on Election Day. Thirty-Seven other states and the District of Columbia already provide citizens with the freedom to cast their ballot on or before Election Day.

ENSURING THE ACCURACY AND INTEGRITY OF ELECTIONS BY AUDITING ELECTION RESULTS

Citizens need to be able to trust the results of our elections, but trust has been shaken in recent years. To restore confidence in our democratic process, an audit of election results is a simple, cost efficient method for ensuring the accuracy of our elections. Thirty-two states require some type of post-election audit to ensure the accuracy of elections. In a recent American Progress report on election security analyzing all 50 states, Michigan received a “C” grade. The report specifically called on Michigan to “adopt robust post-election audit processes that test the accuracy of election outcomes” among other things.

More: Find more information on the ballot proposal.

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