In June of this year, a series of three election reform bills passed both houses of the Michigan state legislature. Republicans comprise the majority in each house of the legislature, and all three bills were passed on party-line votes with all Republicans in favor and all Democrats opposed. The first of the three bills, SB 285, would impose new voter I.D. requirements on absentee voters. It would require voters to provide a photocopy of their I.D. (among other forms of acceptable identification) with their mailed application or present I.D. to the officials at the county clerk’s office when applying in person. Any voter who did not do so would be mailed a provisional ballot and be required to prove their identity before their vote could be counted.
By: Simon Zagata
For over 125 years, Michigan residents had the option of killing many birds with one stone, at least at the ballot box. This option is called straight-ticket voting, and it allows voters to fill in one bubble on a ballot for Democrats or Republicans, instead of filling in individual bubbles for every race. Proponents of straight-ticket voting claim that it makes the voting process faster, which helps eliminate long lines at the polls. In January 2016, Governor Rick Snyder signed into law a bill that eliminated Michigan’s straight-ticket voting option.
The bill passed along mostly partisan lines, with Republicans claiming that it would encourage nonpartisan voting and force voters to be informed on individual candidates, instead of voting by party. Democrats, on the other hand, saw it as a bare attack on voters in urban areas like Detroit and Flint, where long waits at polling places were already common. Straight-ticket voting has been a boon to Democrats in past elections, with more people voting for Democrats on straight tickets than Republicans. The Michigan Democratic Party was not alone in its concern with the law.
By: Simon Zagata
What do milk, eggs, yogurt, chicken and your signature on a petition have in common? As of June 6, 2016, they all have expiration dates; at least in Michigan.
In the U.S., 24 states and the District of Columbia allow citizens to introduce new laws through petitions. In Michigan, citizens can propose new state laws or constitutional amendments through petitions, if they get enough signatures. Once the petition has enough signatures, the proposed ballot measure goes to the legislature. If the legislature does not pass the proposed law within 40 days, the statute goes on the ballot, and voters get to decide its fate. If the ballot measure receives a majority of “yes” votes, it becomes law.
[Read more…] about Has your Michigan signature expired?
By: Angela M. Evanowski
On October 24, 2016, famous singer and actor Justin Timberlake found himself in trouble after posting a “ballot selfie” on his two social media accounts, Twitter and Instagram. Timberlake, who is registered to vote in Tennessee, flew from California to his home voting county and posted the selfies in order to encourage millennials and fans to vote. However, to the surprise of Timberlake, the state of Tennessee earlier this year passed a law banning voters from taking photographs or videos during the voting process. Luckily, for this famous former boy-band member, he is not going to face any criminal charges or punishment for posting his ballot selfies. [Read more…] about Flip and Flop: Federal judge lifts Michigan state law banning “Ballot Selfies,” but Sixth Circuit reverses four days later
By: Sara Krauss
Michigan Absentee Voting On the Rise
Michigan voters are voting via absentee ballot in increasingly high numbers. In the November 2016 election, approximately one-fourth of Michigan voters used an absentee ballot to case their votes. In the August 2016 primary election, that number was even higher in many counties. In Kent County, 43 percent of votes were cast via absentee ballots; in Grand Rapids, 40 percent of votes were absentee; in Ottawa County, roughly one-third of voters voted via an absentee ballot.