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Proposed amendment would put voting rights in MI Constitution

I voted stickers
Scott Pohl

A progressive-backed voting rights coalition has launched a campaign to put a constitutional amendment on the November ballot. The campaign submitted its petition language Monday to the state Bureau of Elections.

If the proposal makes the ballot and is approved by voters, the amendment would require at least nine days of in-person early voting, funding for ballot drop boxes, and a system that allows voters to track mailed-in ballots. It would also guarantee people the right to vote either by presenting a government issued ID or signing an affidavit.

“We must create a voting system that secures options for voters, equitable access to the polls, and ensures that all voters are heard in our election system,” said Promote the Vote campaign president Khalilah Spencer during an online press conference.

“Michigan voters have been clear,” she said. “They want accessible and secure elections, which means being able to make their voice heard at the ballot box and being confident that their vote will be counted.”

Spencer says this would be a follow-up to the successful 2018 campaign to make it easier to vote absentee.

Shelli Weisberg with the American Civil Liberties Union said most voters now use absentee ballots.

“Creating a true early voting system means busy people who two jobs or people who have kids at home and are taking care of children have more options for how and when to vote,” she said.

The campaign would have to gather a little more than 425 thousand signatures to get on the November statewide ballot.

There is also a separate petition campaign underway backed by Republicans and conservatives to create restrictions on voting in the name of ballot security. The Secure MI Vote campaign seeks to initiate a law as opposed to an amendment to the Michigan Constitution.

If it gathers enough signatures, it could and likely would be adopted by the Republican-controlled Legislature without going to the ballot. But a statute would be overridden by a constitutional amendment.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987. His journalism background includes stints with UPI, The Elizabeth (NJ) Daily Journal, The (Pontiac, MI) Oakland Press, and WJR. He is also a lifelong public radio listener.
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