Michigan governor signs legislation expanding voting rights

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Tuesday signed a bipartisan package of bills into law to expand voter rights by allowing early voting and early tabulation of absentee ballots across Michigan.

The legislation, which resulted from the voter-approved Proposal 2, establishes a website for voters to track when their ballots are received and counted, and requires at least nine days of early voting before each statewide and federal election. Voters can also now fix clerical errors on their ballots and use U.S. passports, tribal photo ID cards, military ID cards or student ID cards to identify themselves when they show up to cast ballots.

Lawmakers in several Democratic-controlled states advocated sweeping voter protections this year, reacting to what they considered a broad undermining of voting rights by the Supreme Court and Republican-led states as well as a failed effort in Congress to bolster access to the polls.

Proposal 2 asked whether Michigan should expand opportunities to vote, including through absentee and early voting. The measure requires state-funded absentee ballot drop boxes, as well as postage for absentee ballots and applications, and allows voters to join a permanent list to receive absentee ballots for every election.

“Voting is the cornerstone of our system of government,” said Whitmer, a Democrat. “Michiganders spoke with a clear, united voice last November when they voted overwhelmingly in favor of Proposal 2, expanding voting rights. Today, I am proud to sign bipartisan legislation implementing the will of the people, ensuring they can make their voices heard in every election.”

Under the new law, each municipality in Michigan is required to have at least one secure drop box for absentee ballots or at least one drop box for every 15,000 registered voters in municipalities with more than that many registered voters.

“This was a thoughtful, bipartisan effort and I’m grateful to the leaders in both chambers for getting this done,” said Jocelyn Benson, Michigan’s secretary of state. “We are ready to work with Michigan’s clerks to implement these new laws in time for next year’s elections.”  (AP)

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