Michigan made it easier to vote in 2018, but a new ballot measure would take us backwards ⋆

Here in Michigan, we believe in our freedom to vote. Every voter, regardless of race, background, political affiliation or ZIP code, has a fundamental right to make their voice heard at the ballot box and have a say in determining our state’s future. 

But right now, our voting rights are at risk.

In 2018, Michiganders overwhelmingly voted to expand voting rights and make voting more accessible with the passage of Proposal 3. The record turnout in 2020 confirms voters’ commitment to the democratic process, and the freedom to vote that underlines that process. 

Despite widespread efforts to undermine our democracy, Michigan voters across the political spectrum know that our elections are secure and feel strongly that ensuring we continue to have a convenient and accessible voting system is critical to the integrity of our elections in the future.  

Unfortunately, extremists, out of sync with the will of the people of Michigan are attempting to make it harder for Michiganders to perform their civic duty and make their voice heard.

Last month, Michigan Republicans and their allies launched the “Secure MI Vote” campaign, a petition drive that will take away options for how you can cast your ballot. Don’t let the campaign name fool you — our elections are already secure and accurate. Court hearings and hundreds of audits across the state have proven that the 2020 election was the most secure in Michigan history.

Armed with Trump’s “Big Lie” that he didn’t lose the 2020 election, the people behind this initiative aim to disenfranchise Michigan voters, particularly voters of color, voters with disabilities, rural voters, students and seniors. 

What makes this petition especially dangerous is the plan to enact these dangerous restrictions without a vote of the people. 

The proponents plan to collect the signatures of a small portion of Michigan voters, and once the signatures are certified, impose these burdens on all Michigan voters through a simple, party-line vote in the Republican-controlled Michigan Legislature. This initiative is not supported by the people of Michigan, and they know it.

The proponents plan to collect the signatures of a small portion of Michigan voters, and once the signatures are certified, impose these burdens on all Michigan voters through a simple, party-line vote in the Republican-controlled Michigan Legislature. This initiative is not supported by the people of Michigan, and they know it.

Current law allows registered voters that don’t have an ID to vote on Election Day by taking an oath and signing an affidavit, and more than thirty thousand voters from every county in Michigan have utilized this option in the last two presidential elections alone. The Secure MI Vote initiative aims to remove this option, effectively silencing voters in every corner of the state. There are numerous reasons why a voter may not have a photo ID, and zero reasons why they shouldn’t be able to utilize the secure affidavit to verify their identity at the polls.

The proposal would also require voters to disclose sensitive personal information to register to vote, including a partial social security number. This unnecessary requirement would put voters — especially seniors, overseas voters and those in the military — at risk of identity theft.

Additionally, Secure MI Vote would make it more difficult for our local election officials to run efficient and accessible elections in our communities. One provision bans state and local election officials from providing absentee ballot request forms, a form that voters need to exercise their constitutional right to vote by absentee ballot, unless the voter explicitly requests it.  

The proposal also eliminates nonpublic sources of funding that support state and local election officials’ activities to make elections convenient and secure. This provision would prohibit local civic organizations from partnering with local clerks to run a voter registration drive in your community, or a local church from donating the use of its building to serve as a polling location.  

This provision threatens important support that city and township clerks rely on to ensure robust access to the ballot in their communities. Besides burdening clerks, these restrictions would make it more difficult for voters to cast their ballots.

Despite the lies touted by proponents of Secure MI Vote, this dangerous initiative would fail to solve any existing problem and would instead create new ones for voters, election officials and communities across the state. This proposal will take us backwards and eliminate options for Michigan voters that have been shown to be secure and convenient.  

After the record turnout we saw in the 2020 elections, we should be working to build on that success to ensure Michigan has a voting system that works for all of us. 

This initiative amounts to nothing less than voter suppression. We must come together now, like we have before, to defend our freedom to vote whenever and wherever it is challenged.



authored by Sharon Dolente
First published at https%3A%2F%2Fmichiganadvance.com%2F2021%2F10%2F11%2Fcolumn-michigan-made-it-easier-to-vote-in-2018-but-a-new-ballot-measure-would-take-us-backwards%2F

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