State elections officials on Thursday added a third proposal to the Nov. 6 ballot that would expand voting rights in Michigan. The Board of State Canvassers voted unanimously to certify signatures for a ballot initiative that would amend the Michigan Constitution to allow for no-reason absentee voting by mail, guarantee continued straight-party voting and let residents register to vote up to and on Election Day. The approval from canvassers comes a day before the deadline for inclusion on the November ballot and roughly a week after the ballot committee Promote the Vote asked a federal judge to force state certification of the proposal.Full Article: Voting rights proposal certified for Michigan's November ballot.
no excuse absentee
A group trying to get a voting rights proposal on the November ballot is suing state election workers for not validating the initiative despite the group having the necessary number of signatures. Promote the Vote filed a lawsuit in the U.S. Eastern District Court Tuesday claiming Michigan’s Secretary of State, Board of Canvassers and Bureau of Elections has violated the Constitution by not yet authorizing their ballot proposal, which would allow citizens to register on Election Day and allow no-reason absentee voting. The suit claims the state agencies are in violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendment. The group collected 432,124 signatures during its petition drive, more than the 315,654 signatures necessary to get a proposal on the ballot, according to the suit. The Bureau of Elections, however, determined that there were insufficient valid signatures when it examined a sample of 500.Full Article: Voting rights group files lawsuit over ballot proposal | MLive.com.
Michigan: Group submits signatures for ballot measure to expand voting in Michigan | The Detroit Free Press
More than 430,000 signatures were submitted Monday for a 2018 ballot initiative to expand voting in Michigan by allowing absentee ballots to be cast for any reason and implementing measures such as same-day voter registration. Organizers of the Promote the Vote constitutional amendment include the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, the League of Women Voters and the NAACP’s state and Detroit branches. “Democracy is most effective when the most possible people participate,” ACLU of Michigan Executive Director Kary Moss said during a news conference outside the state elections bureau. “It is time that we had voting reforms in the state because people have died to win and exercise their right to vote. Voting should be easier, it should be accessible and it should be something that everybody can do.”Full Article: Group submits 430,000 signatures for Michigan voting measure.
Two potentially transformative election reforms approved by the Indiana Senate likely will not become law this year after failing to pass the House by Monday’s deadline for acting on Senate measures. Neither Senate Bill 250, authorizing “no excuse” absentee voting, nor Senate Bill 326, establishing standards for legislative redistricting, received formal consideration by the House Elections and Apportionment Committee. They therefore could not advance for a vote by the full House on whether to send them to the governor. It’s possible, though improbable, that the Senate still could force a House vote through the conference committee process.Full Article: Indiana election reforms approved by Senate die in House | Government and Politics | nwitimes.com.
A petition drive hopes to put a voters’ rights amendment to the state constitution on the November ballot. The amendment would let people vote absentee without giving a reason. It would allow early voting. And it would guarantee the right to vote a party-line ticket with one mark on the ballot. “We need to make sure that voting is accessible to all citizens and that everyone’s vote gets counted,” said Judy Karendjeff with the League of Women Voters.Full Article: Groups propose voters rights amendment on November ballot | Michigan Radio.
Hoosiers soon may no longer need to cite a specific reason for voting by absentee ballot. On Monday, state Sen. Frank Mrvan, D-Hammond, won unanimous approval from the Senate Elections Committee for his proposal allowing any registered voter to cast their ballot by mail prior to Election Day. Current law requires voters identify one of 13 excuses for voting absentee, such as being out of town on Election Day, lacking transportation to the polls or observing a religious holiday.Full Article: Indiana could eliminate excuse requirement for voting absentee by mail | Indiana | kokomoperspective.com.
At the summer study committee on election laws, it was announced lawmakers are planning to file bills for same-day voter registration and the ability to vote by mail. While we don’t have details on these bills there were plenty of suggestions on improving voting laws. In a time where many issues can cause divide, some want election laws to be different. “Voting in elections should be among the most inclusion activities we experience as Hoosiers,” said Julia Vaughn with the organization Common Cause. “Our assumption should be that people want to participate.”Full Article: Indiana lawmakers set to propose voting by mail, same-day registration | WISH-TV.
Alabama voters would not have to give a reason for voting absentee under a bill that passed the state Senate last week. Current law requires voters to sign an affidavit attached to the ballot that affirms their identity and gives one of the following reasons for voting absentee: out of town on election day; physically incapacitated; working all day while the polls are open; attending college in another county; being an armed services member or the spouse or dependent of one. The bill, by Sen. Rodger Smitherman, D-Birmingham, would eliminate the requirement to give a reason and the requirement to have two witnesses or a notary public sign the identifying affidavit.Full Article: Bill would eliminate requirement to give reason for voting absentee | AL.com.
Mississippi lawmakers this year rejected a proposal to stop making liars of their fellow citizens, at least when it comes to early voting. Current state law allows any registered voter who is disabled or at least 65 years old to cast an absentee ballot before election day. Anyone else needs an excuse, such as being out of town on election day, to vote early by absentee. A bipartisan study group led by Republican Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann met in 2015 and recommended several election law revisions for legislators to consider this year. The group unanimously backed the concept of allowing voters to cast ballots in circuit clerks’ offices starting 21 days before any election, without having to give a reason. During a news conference at the beginning of the legislative session in January, Hosemann said about 9,000 people cast absentee ballots in Mississippi statewide elections. He said about one-third request mail-in ballots, while two-thirds go to a circuit clerk’s office to vote absentee. Almost half of the people going to clerks’ offices say they’re planning to be out of the county on election day.Full Article: Analysis: Early voting could make you a liar in Mississippi - HeraldCourier.com: News.
Voting Blogs: The Will of the People: Michigan’s Ballot Initiative to Allow By-Mail Voting | State of Elections
Alexander Hamilton once said, “A share in the sovereignty of the state, which is exercised by the citizens at large, in voting at elections is one of the most important rights of the subject, and in a republic ought to stand foremost in the estimation of the law.” In Michigan, the citizens have incredible power to voice their opinion and influence the sovereignty of their state. Through initiative, Michiganders may propose either a constitutional amendment, which does not require state legislative approval before being placed on the ballot, or state statutes, which must first be submitted to the state legislature for approval before being placed on the ballot. In order to participate in the initiative process, Michigan does not even require that the petitioner register with the state, but rather only requires that the petitioner report campaign contributions in excess of $500. However, petitioners may submit their proposal to the Bureau of Elections in order to greatly reduce the chance that formatting errors will prevent the proposal from being accepted.Full Article: The Will of the People: Michigan’s Ballot Initiative to Allow By-Mail Voting |.
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.Full Article: Michigan Senate GOP faces pressure from Gov., SOS on no-reason absentee | MLive.com.
Gov. Rick Snyder signed a bill that will eliminate single-party, straight-ticket voting in Michigan, but urged the state Senate to also pass a bill that will allow voters to cast absentee ballots without having to provide a reason. “Michigan joins 40 other states that require voters to select an individual for each elective office, rather than simply selecting a political party,” Snyder wrote in a letter explaining why he signed the bill. “As governor, I have strived to put people before politics and strongly encourage voters to do the same.” Straight-ticket voting allows voters to fill in one box on the ballot to support all Democrats or all Republicans all the way down the ballot. Local clerks have said the option has helped speed voting lines, which tend to get quite long, especially in urban areas during presidential election years.Full Article: Snyder signs bill eliminating straight-ticket voting.
Two St. Joseph legislators have crafted proposals this session that would alter voting procedures such as those designated for absentee balloting. Rep. Pat Conway, D-St. Joseph, has written a bill that would allow any registered voter eligible to participate in a particular election to do so by absentee ballot without being required to state a reason. Under Mr. Conway’s plan, an application for an absentee ballot instead would need to state whether the voter is incapacitated or confined due to illness or physical disability. People who are primarily responsible for the physical care of an incapacitated or confined person also would fall under the definition.Full Article: Local lawmakers seek voting reforms - St. Joseph News-Press and FOX 26 KNPN: Local News.
Democratic state lawmakers are again hoping to allow no-reason absentee voting in Michigan. Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson has said recently that more people who have died or moved out of state must be removed from the state’s voter registration database before lawmakers will agree to stop putting conditions on who can vote absentee. The state Bureau of Elections says significant progress has been made to clean up Michigan’s voter files. “We are (removing people from the files) much more quickly than we did before and probably more thoroughly than we did before,”Full Article: Democrats Renew Push for No Reason Absentee Voting | WMUK.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy will sign legislation to give Connecticut voters the chance to expand the use of absentee ballots. The bill, which passed the Senate late Wednesday and heads to his desk, will create a ballot question for next year’s statewide election, asking voters whether they want to change the state Constitution and allow the General Assembly to expand early voting opportunities. One of the measures planned by lawmakers is so-called no-excuse absentee ballots. Illness, age and out-of-town business are the main reasons for issuing absentee ballots, in provisions that date back 80 years.Full Article: Connecticut voters to vote on expanding voting - GreenwichTime.
Proposed legislation in St. Paul could change how you vote. Proposed legislation going through the state talks about expanding voting options in the hopes of making the process more flexible. “Last year of course we had the state’s largest election ever. We were again first in the nation, it was very great, very smooth election, but also lots of ideas came forth and so people met around the state, down in Mankato, everywhere, and talking about some things that can make it even better and also cut some of the costs,” says Secretary of State Mark Ritchie. The ‘No Excuse Absentee Balloting’ bill proposes that Minnesotans could cast an absentee ballot without providing one of the five excuses currently allowed. Those reasons are: absence from your precinct, illness or disability, serving as an election judge in another precinct, religious discipline or observance of religious holiday, and any emergency declared by the governor or quarantine declared by the federal or state government.Full Article: KEYC - Mankato News, Weather, Sports - - Proposed Voting Legislation.
Democratic lawmakers blasted Republicans’ recent actions to redraw Senate districts and require voters to show more identification during a roundtable meeting with the League of Women Voters of Virginia this past week. Several of the league’s guest speakers accused the GOP of gerrymandering political districts and trying to restrict voters’ rights. The General Assembly should be making it easier, not harder, to vote, Democratic legislators told about 30 league members Wednesday. Sen. Ralph Northam, D-Painter, said the turnout for the 2012 presidential election was excellent: About 72 percent of Virginia voters cast ballots in November. But some people across the state were discouraged from voting because they had to wait in line for hours at the polls, Northam said. “Good democracy occurs when everybody has a voice,” he said. Northam said that’s why legislators this year filed bills such as “no-excuse early voting” legislation.Full Article: Democrats Accuse GOP of Restricting Voting Rights - Potomac Local News.
The raft of DFL-backed elections changes expected this session started trickling in Thursday as Rep. Steve Simon moved forward with a bill that would allow voters to cast an absentee ballot for any reason. Current state law requires people who vote by absentee to have an excuse for why they can’t show up at their polling place in person on Election Day. Simon’s bill would remove that provision and also permit voters to apply for ongoing or permanent absentee status, which would require the state to mail them an absentee ballot before each election. The measure marks a move toward some form of expanded early-voting procedures, which are currently employed by 32 states. Simon said Minnesota’s law is difficult to enforce right now.Full Article: First election-change bill would offer 'no-excuse' absentee voting | MinnPost.
Michigan: Clerk: No-reason absentee voting to become reality with governor’s support | Source Newspapers
After hearing Gov. Rick Snyder call on the Michigan Legislature to address the issue during his State of the State Address, Shelby Township Clerk Stanley Grot says he remains confident that it is “just a matter of time” until no-reason absentee voting becomes a reality. “Approximately two months ago, I called on Secretary of State Ruth Johnson and the Michigan Legislature to implement no-reason absentee voting in the state of Michigan,” Grot said in a statement. “Since then, I have spoken with Johnson, Macomb County Clerk Carmella Sabaugh, State Rep. Peter Lund and the office of Gov. Snyder. I have found that to some degree, everyone I spoke to believes no-reason absentee voting is common-sense government reform and should be implemented promptly.”Full Article: Clerk: No-reason absentee voting to become reality with governor's support - News - Source Newspapers.
Michigan residents could vote via absentee ballots for any reason under election reforms proposed by Republicans last week, but because the package requires voters to pick up their ballots in person, the change might not make it much easier for some people to vote.
Under the current rules a voter can only get an absentee ballot if they certify that they are 60 or older, expect to be away while polls are open, are physically unable to get to the polls, in jail awaiting arraignment or trial, can’t attend for religious reasons, or will be working as a election official in another precinct. People who vote absentee for these reasons can order their ballots by mail or online. About a quarter of all votes in the last two general elections were cast on absentee ballots, according to the Secretary of State’s office.Full Article: No-reason absentee voting proposal comes with a catch | Michigan Messenger.