LANSING — State Reps. Darrin Camilleri (D-Brownstown Township), Sherry Gay-Dagnogo (D-Detroit), Jeremy Moss (D-Southfield), Kristy Pagan (D-Canton) and Robert Wittenberg (D-Huntington Woods) have introduced legislation to make voting and registering to vote more convenient. The bills seek to modernize the registration process and remove outdated barriers to the ballot box.
“Voting is an essential right that is at the foundation of our democracy and is the basis of our responsibility as citizens,” Camilleri said. “We believe these bills are common-sense measures to protect and enhance Michiganders’ most basic right.”
Camilleri, Pagan and Wittenberg sponsored bills in the package to allow electronic voter registration in current law. As of February, 32 states and the District of Columbia had or were completing fully electronic voter registration systems, according to the Brennan Center for Justice.
“The Secretary of State already allows Michigan residents to complete a number of tasks online, so there’s no reason to keep voter registration off that list,” Pagan said. “It’s time to bring this process into the 21st century so that more people can participate in our democracy.”
Gay-Dagnogo sponsored three bills that will change Michigan law to provide for automatic voter registration. The bills ask people applying for a driver’s license or personal ID card to indicate citizenship, and those citizens would then be automatically registered. Individuals could also opt out.
“The state of Oregon has seen great success with its automatic voter registration program, and we should replicate that success here in Michigan,” Gay-Dagnogo said. “When more people participate in our elections, we get a more accurate reading on the wants and needs of our constituents, and we lawmakers can better represent them at the Capitol.”
Moss’ bill in the package allows first-time voters to cast an absentee ballot. Current law allows all other citizens to vote absentee under certain conditions, such as age and disability.
“Citizens deserve more access to exercise their right to vote, not less,” Moss said. “We’re working to tear down these arbitrary barriers and allow everyone to cast an absentee ballot.”
Camilleri sponsored another bill that requires landlords to provide voter registration paperwork to new tenants. Wittenberg offered the final bill, which allows voters to register 10 days before any election instead of the current 30.
“Michigan law already provides a circumstance for voters to register 10 days before certain elections, so why not allow it for all elections?” Wittenberg said. “These bills encourage greater participation in the democratic process, and that’s something we should all want.”