After more than a decade, Michigan voting booths are in line for an upgrade. Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson announced Thursday the state is starting the process of replacing the election equipment that has served the state for more than 10 years in the state’s 4,800 precincts. On Thursday, the state began the process of taking proposals from election equipment vendors. The state is seeking upgraded voting systems that still use a paper ballot. The proposals need to be in by early September. “The voting equipment Michigan voters use each Election Day has served us well over the past decade, but there’s no question it’s starting to show its age,” Johnson said in a statement. “I thank Bureau of Elections staff and local election officials for their efforts to begin the process to replace the equipment before we start to see wide-scale issues with the aging equipment.”Full Article: Michigan starts the process of obtaining new voting equipment | MLive.com.
Editorials: It’s time to make no-reason absentee voting available to all Michiganders, without restrictions | Jon Sherman/MLive.com
Election Day is the time eligible Michiganders are able to exercise one of their most fundamental American rights: the right to vote. It’s the time when voters have a chance to make their voices heard. But sometimes life gets in the way on Election Day. Maybe you’re working a long shift and can’t take time off to get to your polling place; maybe you don’t have reliable transportation; maybe you or your kids get sick and you aren’t able to leave the house. Sometimes we just don’t have time to get to the polls, but that doesn’t mean we don’t deserve to have our voice heard. Imagine that instead of having to plan ahead and wait in line at the polls on Election Day, you could cast a ballot without having to leave your home. It would certainly make voting more convenient and would help in building a democracy that represents all people in our state.Full Article: It's time to make no-reason absentee voting available to all Michiganders, without restrictions | MLive.com.
Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson’s new no-reason absentee voting proposal, introduced by the head of the House Elections Committee, appears to be a no-go in the Senate. Sen. Dave Robertson, who chairs the Senate Elections Committee, said he does not support the proposal and would not take it up in his committee if it were to advance out of the House. “I believe that Election Day is a focal point in our electoral process for candidates, and I don’t want to diminish the value,” Robertson, R-Grand Blanc Township, said Thursday.Full Article: No-reason absentee voting a no-go in Michigan Senate, which votes to end February elections | MLive.com.
Michigan: With ‘stamp of security,’ no-reason absentee voting would require in-person ID | MLive.com
More Michigan residents could vote by mail — but they’d have to apply in person — under a new no-reason absentee ballot bill backed by Secretary of State Ruth Johnson. Johnson, testifying before the House Elections Committee on Tuesday, said the state is ready to join 27 others that allow no-reason absentee voting, “but with Michigan’s stamp of security.” House Bill 4724 would allow a registered voter who doesn’t otherwise qualify for an absentee ballot to obtain one by visiting his or her local clerk, filling out an application and showing a state identification card. A potential amendment would allow voters without an ID to sign an affidavit of identity.Full Article: With Michigan 'stamp of security,' no-reason absentee voting would require in-person ID | MLive.com.
Secretary of State Ruth Johnson says she is backing new legislation to expand absentee voting and will testify in support Wednesday before a House committee. A bill introduced Tuesday by Rep. Lisa Posthumus Lyons, R-Alto, would allow absentee voting for any reason, for those who satisfy identification requirements.Full Article: Ruth Johnson backing new absentee voting bill.
Michigan: August ballots sent to printer without Flint’s as election-fix bill passes Senate | MLive.com
The ballots for August primary election races in Genesee County were approved and sent for printing Tuesday, May 19, with no Flint ballots included. The Genesee County Election Commission validated ballots and voted to send them to a printer the same day the State Senate approved a plan to allow Flint mayoral candidate names to appear on the August primary. “We’re moving forward, we’re doing our job,” said Genesee County Clerk John Gleason, who sits on the Election Commission alongside Probate Judge Jennie Barkey and County Treasurer Deb Cherry, who was absent from Wednesday’s vote.Full Article: August ballots sent to printer without Flint's as election-fix bill passes Senate | MLive.com.
The Michigan elections bureau has issued a warning about problems with a new Democratic Party program that lets voters apply online for absentee ballots, saying clerks are getting applications for voters who live outside the jurisdiction and signatures that do not match voter records. The late Monday alert to local election administrators statewide, obtained by The Associated Press, also cites concerns about duplicate applications and applications without signatures. “These issues raise concerns with the program’s accuracy and reliability and place unsuspecting voters in jeopardy of being disenfranchised,” according to the memo that describes the program as “unapproved” and asks clerks to quickly report problems to the state. The elections bureau is housed within Republican Secretary of State Ruth Johnson’s department, which confirmed to the AP that the alert had been sent.Full Article: APNewsBreak: Clerks warned over ballot application - TheAlpenaNews.com | News, Sports, Jobs, Michigan, Community Information - The Alpena News.
Michigan: Conyers discounts conspiracy theory behind challenges to keep him off primary ballot | The Detroit News
U.S. Rep. John Conyers said Thursday he doesn’t believe he fell victim to a conspiracy to bounce him from the ballot and end his storied political career. The Detroit Democrat was removed from the Aug. 5 primary ballot for not having enough valid petition signatures before a federal judge Friday restored him to the ballot over concerns Michigan’s election law may be unconstitutional. Conyers, 85, hired family friend and political consultant Steve Hood to handle the petition gathering. Hood has since publicly apologized for not checking the voter registration status of the circulators he hired — a mistake that initially disqualified hundreds of signatures and may have cost Conyers his congressional career. “I know the whole Hood family,” Conyers told The News Thursday. “I know his father, his brother. I know the church. It was very painful.”Full Article: Conyers discounts conspiracy theory behind challenges to keep him off primary ballot | The Detroit News.
A federal judge threw U.S. Rep. John Conyers a political lifeline Friday, ordering the Detroit Democrat onto the Aug. 5 primary ballot because his lawsuit to overturn a Michigan election law is likely to succeed. Judge Matthew Leitman’s ruling allowing Conyers to join challenger Horace Sheffield on the primary ballot capped a whirlwind day for the longest-serving African-American in Congress, as he seeks a 26th term in office. A report released earlier Friday by Secretary of State Ruth Johnson agreed with Wayne County Clerk Cathy Garrett that Conyers was ineligible to run and found he fell more than 540 signatures short of the 1,000 needed to qualify for the ballot. But Leitman, in a 22-page ruling, said Conyers and two petition circulators whose signatures were disqualified have a “substantial likelihood of success” in showing Michigan’s requirement for circulators to be registered voters law is unconstitutional and ordered Conyers on the ballot “because time is of the essence.”Full Article: Federal judge orders Conyers back on Aug. 5 ballot | The Detroit News.
A federal judge said Wednesday he would make a ruling Friday afternoon in an “exceptionally difficult case” that may help determine the political future of U.S. Rep. John Conyers Jr. U.S. District Judge Matthew Leitman, an appointee of President Barack Obama, indicated from the bench he wants to make a quick ruling on the constitutional issues involving the Detroit Democrat’s ouster from the Aug. 5 primary ballot. There are two weeks left until the June 6 deadline when Secretary of State Ruth Johnson must certify candidates for the ballot. Wayne County Clerk Cathy Garrett last week threw the Detroit Democrat off the ballot after disqualifying hundreds of signatures for Conyers’ candidacy because of voter registration problems with his circulators.Full Article: Judge to rule on Conyers' case Friday after ballot status decision | The Detroit News.
Michigan: Snyder: State of State won’t repeat pledge for easier absentee, voter registration | The Detroit News
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.”Full Article: Snyder: State of State won't repeat pledge for easier absentee, voter registration | The Detroit News.
Voter turnout in Michigan’s last presidential election was 63%, better than the national average of about 57%, but far below turnout in Georgia, at 72%, or Maryland, 74%. The difference between the states? Georgia and Maryland are among the 28 states that allow something called “no-reason absentee voting.” In Michigan and in 21 other states, voters who would like to vote absentee must present a reason to be allowed to do so. To receive an absentee ballot a voter must be 60 or older, unable to vote at a poll without assistance, plan to be out of town, in jail awaiting arraignment or trail, working as an election inspector or unable to vote at a poll for religious reasons. And because Michigan is also one of a small number of states that don’t offer early voting, folks who can’t make the wait have few options.Full Article: Editorial: Make it easier for Michigan to vote absentee | Detroit Free Press | freep.com.
Editorials: Secretaries of State: A Key Front in the Battle to Protect Voting Rights | Steve Rosenthal/Huffington Post
Across the country we are witnessing a wholesale attack by the right wing on workers, unions, women’s health, the environment, LGBT issues, civil rights, immigration and nearly every other right, protection and civil liberty that Americans hold near and dear. In recent years, Republicans have invested in and won key state legislative victories, which has resulted in lopsided redistricting that will make the work for progressives even more difficult at the state and federal level for years to come. At the cornerstone of the GOP strategy is an assault on voting rights in state after state, the likes of which hasn’t been seen in this country in decades. The right wing understands that their views are out of step with the rapidly increasing progressive majority in America — women, people of color, union members, LGBT and young voters. And the only way they can win is by attempting to prevent this new progressive majority from voting. If we are to turn things around, finding new ways to defend fair and equal access to the ballot must be a top priority for progressives.Full Article: Secretaries of State: A Key Front in the Battle to Protect Voting Rights | Steve Rosenthal.
Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson says she’s asked the state Attorney General’s office to investigate 10 people who aren’t U.S. citizens but have voted in past Michigan elections. In a letter to Attorney General Bill Schuette, Johnson said they were referring the cases “for investigation, and if appropriate, prosecution. The law is clear – you must be a U.S. citizen to register to vote and to vote on Election Day,” Johnson said in a statement. “We have races that are decided on a handful of votes, and ballots cast by ineligible voters cancel out those by legitimate voters.”Full Article: Investigation Sought Of Non-Citizen Voting In Michigan « CBS Detroit.
When residents of the Livonia school district vote Tuesday on a $195 million bond proposal, they may notice a slight change on their ballot application. Under Michigan law, by signing the application, the voter certifies that he or she is a U.S. citizen. The revised application forms also remind voters that they must be citizens in order to vote. Secretary of State Ruth Johnson successfully pushed to add new language to the ballot application to make clear that only U.S. citizens may cast ballots. Tuesday’s election will be the first to use the new language approved by the Legislature.Full Article: Tuesday's ballot applications will have new citizenship language | Observer and Eccentric Newspapers and Hometown Weeklies | hometownlife.com.
Michigan’s top elections official wants to require political campaigns to report financial contributions within 48 hours after they receive them, one of several proposals aimed at giving voters nearly real-time information about the money behind the candidates. As part of this week’s observance of National Sunshine Week, an initiative aimed at improving government transparency, Secretary of State Ruth Johnson said she is working with lawmakers to draft legislation and push through some long-elusive changes to the state’s campaign finance system. Under current law, voters often have to wait months before being able to access critical information about contributors to groups funding the candidates. “That’s a long time not to have that information, with lots of voting going on and lots of decision making,” she said.Full Article: Michigan election official seeks more transparency - The Morning Sun.
President Barack Obama called Tuesday for a national commission to study ways to make it easier for Americans to vote, but one former Michigan secretary of state didn’t like the idea. Voting issues have been debated in Michigan with confusion over a citizenship checkoff on ballot applications and Gov. Rick Snyder and Secretary of State Ruth Johnson calling for changes to make it easier to register and cast absentee votes. “We must all do our part to make sure our God-given rights are protected. That includes our most fundamental right as citizens: the right to vote,” Obama said in the State of the Union. Obama said he’s appointing top members of his re-election campaign and the campaign of GOP nominee Mitt Romney to head up the commission.Full Article: Rep. Miller opposes voting reforms | The Detroit News | detroitnews.com.
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.
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.Full Article: Snyder to push for online vote registration, no-reason absentee voting | The Detroit News | detroitnews.com.
Michigan: Voters must affirm citizenship on ballot application under bill signed by Snyder | Detroit Free Press
Voters won’t have to check a box affirming that they’re U.S. citizens when they go to vote in the future. But there will be a sentence on ballot applications affirming U.S. citizenship that every voter will have to sign before they get a ballot. After vetoing similar legislation in July, Gov. Rick Snyder signed a bill late Friday that requires the citizenship affirmation to be included on ballot applications. The amendment was included in a separate bill at about 2:30 a.m. on Dec. 14 in the final hours of legislature’s lame duck session.Full Article: Michigan voters must affirm citizenship on ballot application under bill signed by Snyder | Politics/Election 2012 | Detroit Free Press | freep.com.