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Michigan Senators Tackle Voting Reform

Voting Booth
Sam Felder

Michigan lawmakers seem to be making voting laws a priority.  Lawmakers in both chambers have now introduced legislation they say will make voting easier. 

State Senators are making voting laws an issue this year.  A mostly Democratic group of Senators has introduced a set of bills they say will make voting easier for everyone.  One of the bills would allow people to preregister to vote when they turn sixteen – as long as they have a driver’s license or a state ID card. 

Democratic Senator Steve Bieda is a bill sponsor.  Calling the legislation innovative, he said the state needs to keep up with modern times when it comes to voting.  

“It’s been used with some great success in a number of other states,” he said.  “It would save money and, frankly, it would help encourage younger people, as a rite of passage, to register to vote.”

Another bill would allow for electronic filing of voter registration applications, and the other would allow no-reason absentee voting.  Bieda called them “common sense” reforms.   

“We are a service industry,” he said.  “We serve the public, and we serve at the public’s discretion.  This is a way of allowing people to exercise their right to vote and register more easily.”

The State House of Representatives also unveiled a voting reform package two weeks ago.  Spearheaded by Democrats, their package also includes no-reason absentee voting. 

Bieda said the issue of making voting easier and accessible shouldn’t be a party issue.  “Philosophically, what we believe in is that every citizen has a right to vote, every vote should be counted, and everybody has a right at the table to make their voice heard,” he said.  “And they do that at the ballot box.”

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—Cheyna Roth is a reporter for the Michigan Public Radio network.  Contact WEMU News at734.487.3363 or email us at studio@wemu.org

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