What is Promote the Vote?
Promote the Vote is a broad coalition striving to make voting more accessible for all eligible Michiganders through a ballot initiative to amend the Michigan Constitution to provide certain voting rights. By making voting more accessible and secure, our democracy will better serve all Americans and our laws will better reflect the will of the people. Everyone -- Republicans, Democrats and Independents -- deserves to have their vote secure and counted.
Official language: A proposal to amend the Michigan Constitution of 1963 by amending Article II, Section 4. If adopted the proposal would provide citizens qualified to vote in Michigan with the following rights: to vote a secret ballot; for military and overseas voters to be sent a ballot 45 days before an election; to vote straight party on all partisan general election ballots; to be automatically registered to vote when obtaining a driver’s license or personal identification card from the Secretary of State, unless the person declines; to register to vote by mail on or before the 15th day before an election; to register to vote in person at any time with proof of residency; to vote an absentee ballot, by mail or in person, without giving a reason; and to have election results audited to ensure the accuracy of elections. This proposal is to be voted on at the November 6, 2018 general election.
What will it do?
If adopted this proposed ballot initiative will amend the Michigan Constitution by creating fair rules that remove barriers and make voting more accessible and secure so all eligible voters are heard on Election Day by:
- Protecting the right to vote a secret ballot
- Ensuring military service members and overseas voters get their ballots in time for their votes to count
- Providing voters with the option to vote straight party
- Automatically registering citizens to vote at the Secretary of State's office unless the citizen declines
- Allowing a citizen to register to vote until 15 days before an election by mail or in person. After that, citizens may register to vote in person with proof of residency up to and on Election Day.
- Providing all registered voters access to an absentee ballot for any reason
- Ensuring the accuracy and integrity of elections by auditing election results
Who is involved?
Citizens and organizations from all walks of life and from across Michigan, including business and nonprofit communities, are involved in this effort.
Why is it needed?
We need a voting system that works for all citizens in Michigan. Period.
From working parents who struggle with long voting lines, far-away polling places and no time off work to vote, to people who frequently move for jobs or military service, we need to set up our system so that every eligible Michigander can have their voice heard on Election Day.
The good news is that the fix to our election system -- restoring faith in our democracy -- isn’t a hard one. We can ensure all eligible Americans have access to a secure vote, an up-to-date system and accurate voter lists. In fact, most of these reforms in this constitutional amendment have been in existence for decades in other states. The citizens of Michigan deserve the same access to the ballot enjoyed by other citizens across this country.
Protecting the right to vote a secret ballot
The right to cast a secret ballot is a core value in our democracy. Every voter has the right to keep who they voted for a secret from absolutely everyone. In recent years, there have been extensive requests for voter data by the federal government which concerns many Michiganders. Some states have adopted provisions eroding the secrecy of the ballot. To avoid any erosion in the right to privacy in voting, Michigan must clearly and affirmatively provide the right to a secret ballot in the constitution
Ensuring military service members and overseas voters get their ballots in time for their votes to count
Members of our military fight to protect our democracy, and they should have a say in that democracy. Yet, military and overseas voters struggle the most to make their voices heard in our elections. Their ballots are the most likely to be rejected, and this occurs most often because their ballots were not returned in time. Michigan’s constitution does not specifically protect military and overseas voters. This amendment will ensure that it does, and that our election officials get these ballots out on time every year, so they can be returned and counted.
Providing voters with the option to vote straight party
Michigan has had straight party voting since 1891 and more than 50 percent of voters used it in 2016. However, legislators in Michigan continue to put straight party voting on the chopping block. In the past two elections, voters in Michigan endured the 6th and 12th longest lines in the country respectively. Allowing our legislature to eliminate the option to vote straight party would mean even longer lines, which will make it harder for busy families who simply cannot wait hours to vote. Safeguarding straight party voting in our constitution is the best way to ensure continued efficiency in our elections.
Automatically registering citizens to vote at the Secretary of State's office unless the citizen declines
Automatic voter registration is a small, common sense change that will make registering to vote at the Secretary of State more efficient. By registering more voters at the Secretary of State, local communities will avoid having to process costly paper voter registrations each year, increase the accuracy of the voting rolls by reducing data entry errors and bring Michigan in line with nine other states that have adopted this common sense reform. Even with automatic voter registration, voters always have the right to decline to be registered.
Allowing a citizen to register to vote until 15 days before an election by mail or in person. After that, citizens may register to vote in person with proof of residency up to and on Election Day.
The citizens of Michigan are more mobile than ever before and they need a modern voting system that meets their needs. Michigan is one of only 14 states with a voter registration deadline 30 days or more prior to Election Day. That may have made sense years ago, but today Michigan must follow the lead of other states including 19 states that have moved their voter registration deadline to 15 days or less.
In addition, we need to make sure that qualified citizens are not denied the right to vote on Election Day because of an error in the voter registration rolls. Voters who are improperly or erroneously purged from the voter rolls, need to know that if they appear in person and provide proof of residency that they will be able to cast their ballot. Thirteen states and the District of Columbia already allow voters to register to vote on Election Day. This includes Minnesota, Wisconsin and Maine, which have had this opportunity since the 1970s. It is time for Michigan to ensure every qualified citizen is able to cast a ballot on Election Day.
Providing all registered voters access to an absentee ballot for any reason
Michigan has fallen behind the rest of the country by limiting most voters to voting on Election Day. All Michigan voters deserve the freedom to choose whether to cast their ballot on or before Election Day. The current law, with only six reasons for obtaining an absentee ballot, leaves out busy working parents, rural voters who live far from the polls, anyone who would like more time to review their ballot and educate themselves about the issues. Allowing all registered voters access to an absentee ballot will also reduce lines for voters who choose to vote on Election Day. Thirty-Seven other states and the District of Columbia already provide citizens with the freedom to cast their ballot on or before Election Day.
Ensuring the accuracy and integrity of elections by auditing election results
Citizens need to be able to trust the results of our elections, but trust has been shaken in recent years. To restore confidence in our democratic process, an audit of election results is a simple, cost efficient method for ensuring the accuracy of our elections. Thirty-two states require some type of post-election audit to ensure the accuracy of elections. In a recent American Progress report on election security analyzing all 50 states, Michigan received a “C” grade. The report specifically called on Michigan to “adopt robust post-election audit processes that test the accuracy of election outcomes” among other things.
What happens next?
On February 13, 2018, Promote the Vote’s petition language was approved as to form by the Board of Canvassers. In order to place this petition before the voters on November 6, 2018, Promote the Vote has to collect and submit 315, 654 valid petition signatures by July 9, 2018.
We will work to make sure that the vote is accessible to all Americans. We will knock on doors, call, and share with Michigan voters that everyone deserves to have a secure and accessible vote.
How can I get involved?
We need volunteers – regular citizens who are energized about making the voting system work for everyone to collect signatures and help get the word out.