Michigan is failing to engage young voters because it lacks online registration and some of its laws are too restrictive, according to a group whose aim is to get more youths to vote. Rock the Vote said the younger generation is comfortable with online access for everyday tasks and the current voting laws are outdated. Its study called for the state to update its laws.
“Today’s generation uses technology to register for classes and pay for taxes,” said Heather Smith, president of Rock the Vote. “It would seem quite normal that we’d also be able to fill out a voter registration form with technology.”
A survey that tested how accessible the voting process was to all registered voters, released in June, found Michigan ranked 38th nationally, scoring 31 percent out of 100 percent. The average score was 41 percent, with the highest scoring state, Washington, at 68 percent.
Other barriers in Michigan voting laws, according to the study, are lack of same day registration; lack of convenience voting, which allows registered voters to cast ballots a day early; and laws that make it difficult to obtain an absentee ballot.
Michigan doesn’t have any plans to enact online registration or same day registration, said Fred Woodhams, a spokesman for Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson. “We just don’t believe the technology is advanced enough to prevent people from tampering with it,” he said.
Last year, the District of Columbia tested the security of a new online voting system through a mock election and invited anyone to find holes in the system. Researchers from the University of Michigan were able to hack into the system and change ballots that were cast.