Proposal 3 expected to increase voter turnout

May 7 election to include same-day registration, no-reason absentee voting

Michigan voters can expect changes in the upcoming May 7 election. No-reason absentee and same-day registration voting is now Michigan law. (News Advocate File Photo)

LANSING — Michigan voters can expect some changes in the upcoming May 7 election, following the passage of Proposal 3 in November.

The “Promote the Vote” ballot measure changed Michigan’s election law by making it easier for voters to obtain absentee ballots and register to vote on Election Day.

Michigan’s Director of Elections Sally Williams said the upcoming election is considered to be small, and locally, a school millage is the only item on the ballot. For those who have an election on Tuesday, Williams said it will help to set the stage for the 2020 Presidential Election.

She said election officials are anticipating an increased voter turnout.

“I think that it’s nice to start these changes with an election like this. We are really going to be studying it so that we can help them to be as ready as they can be for next year,” she said. “Obviously, next year is a presidential election year, which is a huge election.”

Williams said the first thing people should do is check if they have an election on May 7. In Manistee County, Cleon, Marilla, Pleasanton and Springdale townships are able to vote on a Benzie County Central Schools bonding proposal.

One major change under Proposal 3, Williams said all eligible and registered Michigan voters will now be able to request an absentee ballot without providing a reason. These ballots must be signed and returned to a township or city clerk’s office by 8 p.m. on Election Day.

To register for an absentee ballot, mailed-in applications must be received by 5 p.m. the Friday before an election, and a ballot will be sent by mail. Voters can also drop off their application in person at their township or city clerk’s office by 4 p.m. the Monday before an election, and get their ballot.

“They used to have to provide a reason, have to be out-of-town, people over 60 years of age, and there are a few other things,” she said. “The whole concept behind Proposal 3 was to eliminate barriers, make more people eligible to vote.”

“Now you do not need a reason, you still need to request a ballot, there’s a form on our website you can fill out, and you need to sign it — mail it, scan it, email it or take it back in person,” Williams added.

Another change following the approval of Proposal 3, Michigan residents are able to register to vote up until on Election Day.

Michigan residents can register to vote at Secretary of State offices, clerks’ offices, by mail, online or at registration drives and military recruitment centers by up to 15 days before Election Day. For this upcoming election, this must be completed by April 22.

However, between April 23 and Election Day people must register in person at their local township or city clerk’s office. Those who register past the two-week deadline must provide proof of residency.

“Most people register to vote at the Secretary of State Office, but now people can also register to vote at their township or city clerk’s office,” Williams said. “Secretary of State Office or by mail registration only goes to until 15 days before the election.”

Those who register on Election Day are able to vote absentee from the clerk’s office or provide a receipt verifying registration at their assigned polling location.

Williams said voters are able to check their information, find their local clerk’s office, read up on election details, check their ballot information, and more at Michigan.gov/vote.

Proposal 3 amended the Michigan Constitution to include rights to the following: 

• Timely distribution of absentee ballots to military personnel or those living overseas;

• A secret ballot;

• Straight-party voting;

• Automatic registration;

• In-person registration up to Election Day, with proof of residency;

• Registration by mail up to 15 days before an election;

• No-reason absentee voting; and

• A statewide audit of election results.

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Posted by Ashlyn Korienek

Ashlyn is the cops & courts and city reporter for the Manistee News Advocate. You can reach her at (231) 398-3109 or akorienek@pioneergroup.com

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