Gov. Rick Snyder announced Wednesday that he and Secretary of State Ruth Johnson are teaming up to ask for legislation allowing Michiganians to register to vote online and to vote absentee without a reason — such as disability or being out of town — up to 45 days before Election Day. Johnson said her office has been updating its software over the past three years to allow for the voting changes and to accommodate more frequent campaign finance reporting, another goal on which she is working with Snyder. She didn’t speculate Wednesday night after the governor’s State of the State address on the chances of approval from the Legislature, which has been leery of liberalized voting rules. “We want to make it convenient and secure for everybody,” Johnson said.
Johnson wants to require quarterly reporting of campaign contributions and expenditures for all officeholder categories. A newly passed law will require that only for political action committees while elected officials like Snyder, in nonelection years, must file only annual reports no matter how much money they take in. Johnson said the law on PACs will serve as is her pilot for expanding the reporting mandates.
She said the proposed no-reason absentee voting and online registration would be subject to a version of Michigan’s voter identification requirements. Online registrants would have to enter the last four digits of their Social Security numbers and their driver’s license numbers. No-reason absentee voters would have to vote in-person at clerk’s offices, where they would present IDs as they now do at polling places.
Voting by mail still would be available to senior citizens and people in the current special categories for absentee voting.
Two Democratic lawmakers expressed general support.