Gov. Rick Snyder will set the tone for his re-election campaign and preview upcoming budget battles in tonight’s State of the State address. He is expected to talk about education, discuss what to do with a projected $1 billion surplus, renew the quest for more permanent road repair money and dwell on his accomplishments. What won’t be included is a repeat of his pledge from last year to join Secretary of State Ruth Johnson in seeking no-reason absentee voting and online voter registration — initiatives that are not popular among the Republican legislative majority. “I don’t think that’s something I’m going to emphasize because there was some effort to do that last year that didn’t work,” Snyder said in an interview Tuesday at the North American International Auto Show. “There’s a limited opportunity window, and given that it’s an election year, I think there are other things that will be priorities.”
That’s a disappointment to Rich Robinson, who tracks political campaign funding as head of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network.
“It puts people in a bad position when they have to make up a story about why they want to vote absentee,” Robinson said. “We’re being left behind, and it’s too bad. We should be encouraging more participation in elections, not discouraging it.”
A year ago, the reforms were key items on Snyder’s to-do list in his annual message, following discussions with Johnson. The result: two ignored Democratic bills for the reforms and GOP majority silence on the issue, which seems certain to continue this year.