Michigan Group Submits 430,000 Signatures For Measure To Expand Voting Access

ST PETERSBURG, FLORIDA-OCTOBER 29, 2004:  A woman drops her ballot into the box after early voting in St Petersburg, Fl.  Most people said they waited about 1.5 hours in line to vote today. (Photo by Tim Boyles/Getty Images)
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A Michigan group has collected over 430,000 signatures to get a measure expanding voting access on the November ballot, in the latest citizen-driven push to modernize and streamline the voting system in that key Midwestern state.

Promote the Vote, a non-partisan group backed by the American Civil Liberties Union, NAACP, and League of Women Voters, submitted the signatures to Secretary of State Ruth Johnson’s office on Monday, the deadline for any ballot measures that would amend the state constitution.

“Today is a good day,” Todd Cook, Promote the Vote’s campaign director, told TPM in a Monday phone interview.

The proposal would impose fixes including automatic voter registration, same-day registration, access to absentee ballots on request, and better access for military service members and overseas voters.

It is the second sweeping citizen-driven ballot measure intended to address issues with voting access and fairness in a state that narrowly swung for Donald Trump in the 2016 election.

The other is an anti-gerrymandering proposal brought by Voters Not Politicians (VNP). That measure seeks to take power to draw congressional and legislative maps away from the state legislature and turn it over to a 13-member redistricting commission.

The VNP proposal was finally approved for the November ballot last month after a months-long legal fight brought by Citizens Protecting Michigan’s Constitution (CPMC), a conservative group backed by the Michigan Chamber of Commerce. But that fight is not yet over.

Though the Michigan Court of Appeals strongly ruled in VNP’s favor, Republican Attorney General Bill Schuette successfully pushed the Michigan Supreme Court to consider overruling that decision. Both CPMC and Schuette maintain that the proposal is so complex that it can’t be considered an amendment to the state Constitution, and should instead be addressed at a constitutional convention. The Republican-dominated state Supreme Court will hold a hearing on the initiative on July 18.

Bearing witness to this ugly legal battle has not deterred Cook and his army of volunteers, he told TPM.

“You always hope that people will look at matters in terms of what they actually are and not read into any political implications,” Cook said of possible court challenges. “We’ll see what happens in terms of Citizens Protecting Michigan’s Constitution and what they do.”

Cook said that Promote the Vote’s proposal was “much simpler and much more straightforward” than VNP’s, which would make it difficult for CPMC to just replicate the same line of attack.

CPMC spokesperson Dave Doyle told TPM that the group had not yet reviewed Promote the Vote’s amendment and had no further comment at this time.

For now, Promote the Vote is waiting for the Secretary of State’s office to certify their signatures and holding its breath for any possible legal challenges. According to Cook, they have organized community meetings across the state and are going door-to-door to try to educate Michiganders about the reforms they hope to achieve.

This post has been updated. 

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