In The Public Interest: Breaking Down Proposal 3, Which Will Be On the November Ballot

Oct 22, 2018

League of Women Voters of the Ann Arbor Area logo
Credit League of Women Voters in the Ann Arbor Area /

This week on "In the Public Interest" our bi-weekly conversation with the League of Women Voters of the Ann Arbor Area, 89.1 WEMU's Lisa Barry talks with league member and lawyer Margaret Leary about all the elements included in Proposal 3 voters will decide on when they vote in the coming election on November 6th.

About Margaret Leary

Margaret Leahy from the League of Women Voters in the Ann Arbor Area
Credit Lisa Barry / 89.1 WEMU

Margaret Leary joined the League in 2015 but only became active in February 2017. After she learned how to give the LWVMI’s presentation about Redistricting, she agreed to be the Redistricting Education Coordinator for the Ann Arbor Area. To date, LWVAAA has presented to over 1,400 people in Washtenaw and adjacent counties. A group that desires a presentation should email

Margaret, a lawyer and librarian, is retired from her position as director of the University of Michigan Law Library. She has served on the City of Ann Arbor Planning Commission, and served three terms as an elected trustee of the Ann Arbor District Library.

About Proposal 3

Proposal 3, near the end of the Nov. 6 ballot, seeks to make voting in Michigan more convenient, accessible and secure with 8 common sense improvements that would be secured in the Michigan constitution.


    1. Register to vote anytime with proof of residency right up to election day

    2. Absentee ballot by right (now limited to 6 reasons);

    3. Auto. register at SOS--opt out possible.

    4. Option to vote straight party ticket.

    5. Overseas voters including military ensured to get ballot in time to vote and have it counted.


    1. Constitutional assurance of secret ballot

    2. Audit election results to ensure accuracy and integrity of election, using gold-standard of comparing randomly selected paper ballots to computer.

Why Proposal 3 is Necessary

The best evidence is that over 2.8 million Michiganders of voting age did not vote in the 2016 presidential election, in which 4,799,284 votes were cast. Had everyone eligible been registered, and voted, there would have been about 7.6 million.

Estimates are that automatic registration at the SofS would increase registered voters by 96,000; and that ability to register anytime with proof of residency would add another 244,000, for a total of 340,000. Right to an absentee ballot might add another 3% every year.

How Michigan Voting Compares to Other States

Historically, Michigan was a leader in promoting voting, with its pioneering “Motor Voter” system to register voters when the obtain, renew, or change their driver's license. That was in the 1970’s and became the national standard. Since then, no change. A federal judge says that Michigan has “one of the most restrictive voting regimes in the country.” We have not adopted changes that most other states now have.

--38 states + DC allow citizens more time to register, before an election, than Michigan does. Michigan’s deadline is 30 days before the election, the longest allowed under federal law. It could not be worse! PTV would allow voting up to and on Election Day.


--Only two states have not adopted any reform that increases access to the ballot. One is Michigan. The other is Mississippi. In fact, 36 states and DC have adopted three or more reforms.

    AL has online voter registration and a voter registration deadline half of MI’s.

    MN has online voter registration, ED registration, and no-reason absentee voting.

    IL has early voting, automatic voter registration, election day registration and online voter registration.

How Proposal 3 Would Affect Michigan If Passed

The more easily fit registration and voting into their busy lives, which would encourage them to vote, so our election results would more accurately reflect collective will of the voters.

Because it is an amendment to the state constitution, it would take effect 45 days after the date of the election. That’s to allow a chance for objectors to litigate, if there are grounds, because changing the constitution is so consequential.

The ACLU had to go to court to force the Secretary of State’s office to follow the law, approve the petition, and develop the wording to put this on the ballot.

It is not a partisan issue. Everyone, whether Republic, Democrat, or Independent deserves to have their voice heard, and that won’t happen unless Michigan’s system becomes more convenient, accessible, and secure.

The League of Women Voters of Michigan is a member of the coalition that created this proposal (which includes LWVMI, ACLU, NAACP MI, NAACP Detroit and MI League for Public Policy), and supports it. If adopted, it would make registering to vote, and then actually voting, much more convenient, accessible, and secure. Michigan needs to regain its former status as a leader in facilitating voting.

Non-commercial, fact based reporting is made possible by your financial support.  Make your donation to WEMU today to keep your community NPR station thriving.

Like 89.1 WEMU on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

— Lisa Barry is the host of All Things Considered on WEMU. You can contact Lisa at 734.487.3363, on Twitter @LisaWEMU, or email her at