LANSING, Mich., Nov. 3, 2021 — Today, state Reps. Kara Hope (D-Holt), Matt Koleszar (D-Plymouth), Mari Manoogian (D-Birmingham) and Karen Whitsett (D-Detroit) unveiled a nine-bill package that aims to protect Michiganders’ right to vote. Ingham County Clerk Barb Byrum and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson joined the representatives to show their support for the legislation. 

“This legislation is representative of the best of what government can be — policy creation that is citizen-focused and developed by listening to the experts and following the data and the facts,” Benson said. “In a year where we have seen a national, coordinated, partisan effort to undo the policies that made our 2020 election so secure, accessible and successful, I am grateful for the leadership of lawmakers who legislate in furtherance of facts with an eye towards ensuring our democracy is one where every valid vote is counted and every voice is heard.”

Bills in the package would make good on the promise of free, fair and accessible elections through measures such as ensuring that every city or township has at least one dropbox for absentee voter ballots and automatically sending absentee ballot applications to all voters in the state.  

“This is about making sure that voters have the opportunity to exercise their rights,” Hope said. “It’s about making the system more equitable. For example, if you’re a disabled senior who has a hard time leaving your home, your voice still counts as much as anyone else’s. We need to make sure that folks in that condition still have strong rights and freedoms.”

The bills are a response to Republican efforts in Michigan and across the country to restrict citizens’ fundamental freedom after the 2020 election featured record turnout despite the pandemic. That was thanks in large part to Proposal 3, a constitutional amendment that Michigan voters passed by a 2-to-1 margin enshrining voting features like no-reason absentee voting that Republicans are trying to curtail.

“Good election legislation doesn’t mean tearing down an entire system that we know works and works well,” Koleszar said. “It’s about incremental, proactive updates that allow our elections to run more efficiently without raising unnecessary barriers to access in the process. Rather than performing invasive surgery on the entire system, think of this package as a friendly check-up to make sure everything continues to run smoothly.”

“Let me tell you: voting is a good thing,” Whitsett said. “Voting is part of the reason that I love this country so much. It allows you to elect officials and vote them out if you don’t like them! That’s why civic engagement is so important. The more voters that can exercise their rights, the stronger our democracy.”

“Protecting the right to vote — and expanding it to every eligible Michigander — is the sacred duty of every member of the Legislature,” Manoogian said. “Voting and registering to vote in this state needs to be as easy, accessible, and straightforward as possible for every single resident. It’s well past time for the Legislature to take up our duty to do just that, and I’m proud that it’s House Democrats leading that charge with this package’s introduction.”