Opinion: Proposal 2 | Opinion



Marenette

I recently joined clerks from counties, cities and townships across Michigan in voicing our support for Proposal 2, a ballot initiative that would enhance the security and integrity of elections, while making voting more accessible for all eligible Michigan voters.

As clerks, our job as election officials is to make sure that eligible voters have access to the ballot box – and that their votes are counted accurately. Here in Traverse City, eligible voters take their responsibility of citizenship seriously. Like Michiganders everywhere, we want secure and accessible elections that protect the right of every citizen to vote.

Proposal 2 does all these things and deserves voters’ approval.

Take, for example, our US military service members defending our freedoms abroad. Because many of them mail their ballots, their votes sometimes arrive after Election Day. As a result, those service members’ votes are not counted. Proposal 2 fixes this, by giving mailed ballots from our troops abroad a six-day grace period after Election Day to be counted.

While less than 1% of the mail-in ballots of Michigan voters were rejected in the November 2020 election, according to the US Election Assistance Commission, nearly four times as many (3.8%) of the mail-in ballots of Michigan’s military and overseas voters were rejected because they arrived after the deadline.

The same people who put themselves in harm’s way and make tremendous sacrifices protecting our democracy and our right to vote deserve to have their own votes counted, too. Many other states provide more time after Election Day for military and overseas ballots to arrive. Michigan should do the same with Proposal 2.

Proposal 2 also promotes greater access to eligible voters by allowing nine days of early in-person voting so busy working parents juggling jobs and family, older Americans with limited mobility, people with disabilities and rural voters facing transportation hurdles have more flexibility to decide when to vote. Voters also will have the right to a single application to vote absentee in all elections.

In addition to reducing barriers that prevent or discourage many eligible voters from voting, Proposal 2 also contains common-sense safeguards to help enhance election integrity.

Under Proposal 2, only eligible citizens can vote: Michigan’s current and effective voter identification requirements will be enshrined in the state Constitution, mail ballots will only be counted if their signature matches the correct eligible voter on file and only elections officials can conduct post-election audit.

I’ve had the honor of serving this community as clerk and working with outstanding folks from all backgrounds — Republicans, Democrats and independents — to help make sure that every eligible voter can exercise an American’s most fundamental right, the right to vote.

That’s why I support Proposal 2, a nonpartisan and common-sense step toward strengthening Michigan elections and empowering citizens so they are heard.

About the author: Benjamin Marentette has served as city clerk of Traverse City since September 2011. In this role, he serves as chief operating officer for city government and his responsibilities span many areas including oversight of elections. In 2017, he completed a fellowship at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and holds a master’s degree in business administration with a concentration in leadership and finance.

About the author: Benjamin Marentette has served as city clerk of Traverse City since September 2011. In this role, he serves as chief operating officer for city government and his responsibilities span many areas including oversight of elections. In 2017, he completed a fellowship at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and holds a master’s degree in business administration with a concentration in leadership and finance.

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