A bill proposed in the Michigan state legislature could make voting easier for University students. Earlier this month, several state senators sponsored a bill that would allow first-time voters in the state of Michigan to vote by absentee ballot or mail. The bill has been sent to the Senate’s Committee on Elections and Government Reform for review. Currently, first-time voters in Michigan are required to vote in person unless disabled, older than 60 or temporarily residing overseas. Proponents of the new legislation said the current law presents a problem for many University students, who are living in Ann Arbor during their first election and cannot return to their hometown to vote in person.
Steve Bieda (D–Warren), a co-sponsor, said he hopes to encourage voter turnout by making voting more accessible. He said current legislation unfairly benefits the state’s Republicans because college students tend to be younger and more liberal, and are more likely to vote for Democratic candidates. “Frankly, I think it’s a very partisan attempt to prevent people from voting,” he said.
Bieda added that he is unsure if the committee, which is made up of four Republicans and one Democrat, will schedule a hearing for the bill. He said he predicts the bill will not receive a hearing. “This is one example that we’re trying to overcome on a useless law that doesn’t serve any purpose other than make it more difficult for people to vote, to restrict people from voting,” Bieda said.