The Michigan Senate in December broke a pair of bills apart to avoid passing no-reason absentee voting, but now they’re facing calls to pass that bill from Gov. Rick Snyder and Secretary of State Ruth Johnson. HB 4724 would allow voters to go to their local clerk’s office and either vote in person there or take an absentee ballot home without having a reason to vote absentee. Current Michigan law only allows absentee voting if a person falls into one of six categories, including being over age 60 or expecting to be out of town on election day. The bill was introduced in June, but gained traction when it was tie-barred to a bill that banned straight-ticket voting. That action would have meant that neither bill made it into law unless the other one did. However, the Senate broke that tie-bar in a late night session and the House agreed to it.
Gov. Rick Snyder signed the standalone version of the bill to eliminate straight-ticket voting Tuesday, but urged the Senate to pass no-reason absentee as well. “I urge the Legislature to further engage in this discussion and ask the Senate to pass HB 4724 as soon as possible,” Snyder said in a letter to legislators.
Secretary of State Ruth Johnson added her voice to those calling for passage. “First the state House voted in support, and now Gov. Snyder has gone on record in support of creating a secure absentee voting option for Michigan’s hardworking families. I strongly encourage the Legislature to finish the job for their clerks and voters who know this time-saving option will increase election integrity and help Election Day run more smoothly,” Johnson said.