Democrats are calling for an amendment to the state constitution they say will make voting easier in Michigan.
Voting has been a hot-button issue in the Legislature this election year. Democrats say they want to reverse Republican efforts to end straight-ticket voting and make it harder to vote absentee.
The amendment is being spearheaded by state Representatives Gretchen Driskell (D-Saline) and Jon Hoadley (D-Kalamazoo). Driskell says state government has an accountability problem, and a way to help restore confidence is more voter rights and accessibility. “To ensure that our voices are heard and to see action on the issues we as Michiganders really care about, we need to modernize voting access to make sure every eligible voter can participate,” Driskell said at a press conference.
Michigan was ranked 48th on ballot accessibility, according to a July, 2015 Center for American Progress report. However, Michigan was ranked 28th overall when considering all analyzed factors such as accessibility of the ballot, representation in state government, and influence in the political system. The voter bill of rights would allow no-reason absentee voting, early voting, and mail-in ballots.
Hoadley says citizens should never have to choose between voting and their jobs or family responsibilities. “We’ve all heard those stories of workers who try to squeeze in voting on that half hour they have over lunch,” Hoadley said. “And if the line happens to be long, then they maybe have to step out or have a choice: Is my voice going to be heard at the ballot box or am I going to make sure I have a job to feed my family. And that is a choice that no voter should have to make.”
The amendment would have to be adopted by voters, but there is currently little or no support among Republicans to put it on the ballot.