Voting rights is one step closer to appearing on Michigan’s November ballot. Promote the Vote submitted 669,972 signatures to put the constitutional amendment to voters. The group gathered about 250,000 more signatures than it needed to meet the state’s standards for an initiative to get on the ballot.
State election officials still need to approve the signatures before the question appears on the Nov. 8 ballot.
Promote the Vote President Khalilah Spencer says the group is moving forward with its next stage of campaigning.
“Whether that’s TV, Facebook, social media, we got some seasoned folks up here,” Spencer says. “We have some young folks up here. We’re going to use all modes of communication to make sure that voters are aware of this ballot initiative and that they vote ‘yes’ on it.”
Promote the Vote would allow voters to verify their identity with a photo ID or with a signed statement. It would also allow them to request absentee ballots by mail for all future elections.
NAACP Michigan State Conference President Yvonne White says the constitutional amendment would protect voters from intimidation and harassment.
“It even gives voters the freedom to choose when and how they will vote,” White says.
If approved, the amendment would also require public election audits and ensure canvassing boards certify election results based on the official records of the votes cast. It would also institute nine days of early in-person voting and require state-funded ballot drop boxes and postage for absentee ballots. Active military and people voting overseas would have their absentee ballots counted if postmarked before Election Day.
The ballot initiative has broad support. President of the Michigan Farmers Union Bob Thompson says ballot drop boxes are needed for farmers who live far away from polling centers.
“When it comes to participating in our democracy, it is not always convenient or accessible for rural folks,” Thompson says.
Organizers say the measures would promote faith in democracy at a time when many are casting doubt on electoral processes. Michigan Republicans are pushing for voting restrictions through a series of election reform bills.
Promote the Vote’s campaign is supported by several nonpartisan groups including the League of Women Voters of Michigan, Detroit Disability Power, the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services (ACCESS) and the ACLU of Michigan. The signatures still need approval by the state before the measure goes before voters in November.