Promote the Vote


Voting reform in Michigan marches forward

The Promote the Vote coalition’s effort to make voting in Michigan more secure and accessible has moved one step closer to getting on the November ballot as the State Board of Canvassers today approved the petition form. The board’s approval means the coalition will soon begin collecting approximately 316,000 signatures to get the measure on the November ballot.

“We need a voting system that works for everyone and today we are that much closer to making it happen,” said Kary Moss, ACLU of Michigan Executive Director and Promote the Vote coalition member. “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 a system that allows every eligible Michigander to vote and to have their vote count.”

The Promote the Vote campaign is led by a broad coalition that includes the League of Women Voters, the ACLU of Michigan and the state and Detroit branches of the NAACP.

On Jan. 22, the group filed language with the Secretary of State’s Office for the initiative to amend the state Constitution to:

  • Protect the right to vote a secret ballot
  • Ensure military service members and overseas voters get their ballots in time for their votes to count
  • Provide voters with the option to vote straight party
  • Automatically register citizens to vote at the Secretary of State's office unless the citizen declines
  • Allow 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.
  • Provide all registered voters access to an absentee ballot for any reason
  • Ensure the accuracy and integrity of elections by auditing election results

Angela Willson, a Grosse Pointe Park nurse anesthetist, is among the busy moms who struggle to get to the polls on Election Day. The single mother of four wants no-reason absentee voting to make casting a ballot more accessible to her and all working parents.

Of the extra time for military to get in their ballots, Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 9 President Paul Palazzolo, noted: “The people who put their lives on the line to protect our democracy should have as much chance as anyone else to participate in our democracy.”

The proposed reforms mirror election laws in 40 other states that allow for more time to either register or cast a ballot.

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Coalition launches campaign for comprehensive election reform

Amendment would make ballot more secure, accessible.

Between two jobs and four kids, Angela Willson has little time to spare. So Willson figures she should be able have the option of voting absentee in elections---without giving a reason.

“Allowing all registered voters to choose to vote absentee would make my life a whole lot easier,” said Willson, a nurse anesthetist from Grosse Pointe Park. “And it would help our state line up with 37 others that allow all registered voters to cast their ballots on or before Election Day.”

Willson made her comments Monday at the kickoff for Promote the Vote campaign, an effort to place on the November ballot a constitutional amendment to provide comprehensive election reform for Michigan. Citing the need for an accessible and secure ballot for all, a coalition which includes the League of Women Voters, the ACLU of Michigan and the state and Detroit branches of the NAACP filed ballot language Monday with the Secretary of State’s office, organizers announced.

In addition to no reason absentee, the amendment would give military members more time to vote; let citizens register closer to Election Day; allow straight party voting, automatically register citizens when they do business at the Secretary of State’s office, protect a secret ballot and add audits for election results. The group called the reforms “common sense” designed to give more individuals a secure and accessible ballot.

“We’re all better off when more Americans---Republicans, Democrats and independents---participate in our democracy,” said Judy Karandjeff, president of the League of Women Voters of Michigan. “Providing a system that works for all isn’t hard; it just common sense.”

The changes mirror reforms enacted in 40 states that make voting more accessible. Once the ballot language is approved, the coalition has to collect approximately 316,000 signatures to get the measure on the November ballot.

“Putting voters first means making sure that our system is fair and has integrity,” said Ismael Ahmed, a longtime community activist. “Under this amendment, our votes would be protected because our elections could be audited.”

Updating the voter rolls and making the system more secure is good news to Michelle Mills, who had to cast a provisional ballot in 2017 because of inaccurate information at her polling site.

“We need a system that works for all,” she said.

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