With Michigan government deadlocked, advocates urge voters to ease access – Center for Public Integrity

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A ballot initiative that would bypass a Republican-controlled state legislature and expand voting rights in Michigan has exceeded the number of signatures needed to appear on the November ballot, but opponents contested it on technical grounds .

The measure put forward by the voter advocacy group Promote voting would allow nine days of early voting and allow mail-in ballots postmarked on or before election day for military and foreign voters to be counted up to six days after an election.

Opponents say the proposal does not list every part of the state constitution that would be changed if passed.

This is not the first time that advocates have spoken directly to voters to improve access to elections. A scan constitutional amendment passed in 2018 allowing voters to request absentee ballots without giving a reason, and changed the registration deadline from 30 days to Election Day.

“Promoting the Vote won in 2018 and in 82 of 83 counties got a majority of votes,” said Merissa Kovach, Legislative Director of the ACLU of Michigan.It was hugely popular and voters made it very clear that they wanted more options and ways to vote.

There have been no significant changes to Michigan’s electoral process since 2020. Attempts by the Republican-led state legislature to erect new voting hurdles were vetoed by Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer , including an invoice which would have imposed strict identification rules.

Upcoming ballot initiative

As it stands, people can vote early using only postal ballots. There is no early voting in person.

The Promote the Vote petition would change that, along with easing restrictions for mail-in ballots.

Lawyers for a group called Defend your Vote have filed a 57-page complaint Voting Rights Amendment Challenge in August, claiming he failed to comply with Michigan law, which requires petitions to amend the state Constitution to explicitly state which sections would be “amended or repealed.”

The challenge called the petition “flawed”, which Promote Executive Voting Director Called “false, baseless, and without merit,” claiming it “shows how far special interests will go to rig our election by making it harder and less accessible for the people of Michigan to vote.”

“It would give workers and families more time to get to the polls,” Kovach said. “The more options you provide, the more options people will have that are right for them. Allowing early voting is just another option so people can make sure they can fit it into their job of the time.

Voter ID

Meanwhile, conservatives hope to use the citizens’ initiative process to add new hurdles to Michigan’s election laws. Secure IM Voting would amend the state constitution to require a photo ID, driver’s license, state ID, or partial Social Security number for absentee ballot applications, as well as a photo ID for in-person voting. You would also need a partial social security number to register.

This would eliminate Michigan’s existing option for voters who do not have photo ID to simply sign an affidavit at the polls swearing their identity.


About this series

This project examines the state of voting access, voting rights, and inequalities in political representation in all 50 states and Washington, D.C.

Organizers collected enough signatures to put the question to voters, but missed the May 31 deadline to qualify for the November ballot. Criticisms of the proposal say the late submission was intentional. Instead, it will now go before a Republican-led legislature, which could pass it without voter approval. Under state rules for citizens’ initiatives, Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer could not veto the measure if it passed.

Detroit and voting disparities

Low turnout among Detroit voters has been called “civic crisis.”

Only 18% of Detroit’s registered voters cast ballots in the November 2021 general municipal election — the lowest turnout in more than a decade. Less than 15% voted in the August 2021 primary.

In 2020, Detroit, which is 77% black, had more problems with the delivery of ballots by the US Postal Service compared to predominantly white areas, leaving many Detroit residents discouraged.

Former President Donald Trump also target places with large black populations like Detroit, Philadelphia and Atlanta in its attempts to expose nonexistent voter fraud. This cropped to the confidence that voters of color have in the voting process, which was already low after years of disenfranchisement.

But many of the problems are socio-economic and logistical. The face of the Detroiters problems getting to the polls. About a third of the city lives in povertywhich makes it more difficult to miss work, to have access to daycare and to have adequate means of transportation to vote.


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