Michigan Municipal Leauge Review Magazine March/April 2023
PROPOSAL 2 USHERS IN EXPANDED VOTING RIGHTS
By Randy Hannan
Identification at the Polling Place With the passage of Proposal 2, several existing provisions of Michigan’s election law are now codified in the state constitution, including the right of voters to verify their identity at the polling place with a photo ID or a signed affidavit. This provision effectively precludes the Legislature from enacting more stringent identification requirements for voting in Michigan. organizations, and candidates) routinely send absentee ballot applications to voters in advance of every election. Under the constitutional amendment, a voter need only submit a single application to their local clerk to vote by absentee ballot in all future elections. The practical effect of this change is that clerks will be able to send actual absentee ballots to all voters who submit the one-time application. Amending the state constitution was just the first step toward implementing many of these enhanced voting rights and procedures. According to Lansing City Clerk Chris Swope, enabling legislation will be required to clarify some of the new provisions. In addition, Swope says the state Legislature will need to appropriate money to pay for several new mandates, including a state-funded absentee ballot drop box for every 15,000 voters in every jurisdiction across the state, plus postage costs associated with clerks mailing out absentee ballot applications and ballots, and for voters returning their applications and ballots through the mail. According to a 2022 analysis by the nonpartisan House Fiscal Agency (HFA), the state will need to spend more than $2 million and local jurisdictions will spend another million to meet the constitutional drop box requirement. Postage for an estimated six million absentee ballots is expected to cost the state nearly $5 million for each statewide election. Absentee Ballot Applications Many clerks (not to mention political parties, advocacy
A t last November’s general election, state voters overwhelmingly approved Proposal 2, which embedded a host of voting rights and requirements—some old and some new— in the Michigan Constitution. Organizers of the “Promote the Vote” petition drive collected more than 660,000 signatures to place the measure on the statewide ballot, which then passed with 60 percent of the vote. The approval of Proposal 2 comes just a few years after Michigan voters approved 2018’s Proposal 3, another citizen-led initiative that enshrined in the state constitution a series of voting rights such as same-day registration and no-reason absentee voting.
14 THE REVIEW
MARCH / APRIL 2023
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