LANSING — State Rep. Jon Hoadley (D-Kalamazoo) held a press conference today to announce the introduction of a resolution that would amend the Michigan Constitution to include a voter bill of rights. Bills introduced during last session — including a voter ID package — and the lack of action on voting modernization reforms have raised concerns recently about voting accessibility in the state. Also speaking at the press conference were Patrick Schuh of America Votes and Jocelyn Benson, former Dean of Wayne State University Law School and an elections expert.
“Now more than ever, people are energized, people are engaged and people are excited about the democratic process,” said Hoadley. “It is our job as legislators to make sure that participation in that process is modernized, streamlined and accessible to as many people as possible. Your right to vote shouldn’t be up for partisan games in Lansing.”
If passed, the resolution would allow for an amendment of the Michigan Constitution to include a voter bill of rights that would help to remove barriers to accessibility at every step of the voting process. Provisions of the amendment include the right to no-reason absentee voting, as well as in-person early voting up to 15 days before an election. It would also automatically register any eligible person issued a state driver’s license or identification card, in addition to automatically sending an absentee ballot to American citizens living or working overseas, including those in military service.
“Local clerks and organizations across our state have called for the passage of many of the modernizations embedded in this legislation,” said Schuh, Michigan director of America Votes. “This proposal creates strong rules to ensure that we the people have all our voices heard, and we believe now is the time for our state Legislature to take real action to protect our vote.”
“For too long, Michigan has lagged behind other states in how we run our elections,” said Benson. “Rep. Hoadley’s bill implements important innovations that will ensure our voting system is safe, secure, convenient and equally accessible to all.”
“When people take the time and responsibility to vote, we must guarantee that the voices behind those votes are heard, acknowledged and taken into account when crafting policy,” said Hoadley. “We need to ensure that people feel empowered, and few things better convey that than enshrining their right to participation in our state constitution. I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to see this legislation passed quickly.”