By JOEY CAPPELLETTI, Associated Press/Report for America
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — An effort to lock in some voting rights in the Michigan Constitution has taken a major step toward the fall ballot, eclipsing a rival Republican-led campaign to limit absentee voting and add other limitations.
Promote The Vote, a coalition of 27 groups, filed nearly 670,000 signatures on Monday. While signatures have yet to be validated by election officials, the petitions contain about 245,000 more names than needed to qualify for the Nov. 8 election.
The election question would expand voter rights by allowing nine days of in-person early voting, publicly funded mail-in ballot posting and drop boxes in every community.
Promote The Vote is the same coalition that helped push through no reason mail-in voting and same-day voter registration in 2018.
Khalilah Spencer, president of Promote The Vote, said the campaign “observed the 2020 election, and even the 2018 election, and we see where there could be improvements.”
In addition to increased access to early voting, the constitutional amendment would require 24-hour mail-in ballot boxes in every community. Voters could also register on a permanent list to have absentee ballots sent out at each election.
It would also require that election audits be conducted in public by state and county officials and that elections be certified solely on the basis of official records of votes cast.
Parts of it are already in Michigan law, but the state has seen attempts to “manipulate the language in this law and we want to make sure that those gaps are closed,” Spencer said.
For months, Republicans have made clear their intention to pass voting restrictions in the GOP-controlled Legislature by garnering enough signatures to override a certain veto by Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
The measure would implement stricter identification requirements for in-person and mail-in voting and end the mailing of unsolicited mail-in ballot requests. Jamie Roe, spokesperson for the Secure MI Vote measure, said the group planned to submit signatures “very soon”, but he acknowledged he would die if voters in November approved the Promote The Vote proposal.
Secure MI Vote organizers skipped the June 1 deadline to contest the fall ballot, with Roe telling The Associated Press the group believes the “initiative will go through the Legislative Assembly and not even be on the ballot, so the June deadline was artificial for us. ”
Joey Cappelletti is a member of the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places reporters in local newsrooms to report on underreported issues.
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