Ballot proposal to make more people eligible for absentee ballots
by Chantele Fox, Staff Writer
Michigan Proposal 3, Voting Policies in State Constitutional Initiative, will be on the ballot during the 2018 Midterm Elections on Nov. 6. This is an initiated constitutional amendment, which if passed by the voters, will add several voting policies to the Michigan State Constitution. Policies to be added or amended would include straight-ticket voting, automatic voter-registration, no-excuse absentee voting and same-day registration. A “yes” vote will support the addition of new policies and amend existing ones, while a “no” vote opposes the addition of new policies and for existing ones to remain as they are.
How will these changes affect students
Young adults ages 18-29 years of age account for nearly 21 percent of the eligible voting population in the United States, and of that percentage, only 17 percent cast a vote in 2014. What deters students from voting?
“Voters are mobilized around their physical residential address, for young people living in dorms or even moving around after college, this is a problem,” writes Quentin Kidd, writer from The New York Times. “Students live on campus for eight or nine months of the year, and whether they can vote where they go to school depends on the registration laws of the state.”
As of today, Michigan is only one of 20 states that require reasoning when applying to obtain an absentee ballot. As such, an option is not included for those individuals who are of age to vote and enrolled as students in classes of higher education, thus disqualifying them to obtain an absentee ballot in the state of Michigan.
According to michigan.gov, the current Absentee Voting Policy states that in order to be eligible for an absentee ballot citizen must state one of the following reasons: age 60 years or older, require or unable to vote without assistance at polls; expected travel during time of vote; in jail awaiting arraignment or trial; unable to attend due to religious reasons; appointed to work as an election inspector in a precinct outside of the inspector’s home precinct.
Should this proposal pass, students would then become eligible to obtain an absentee ballot without reason, providing opportunity to vote where they go to school should they choose to do so.
“The greatest benefit of proposal three in regards to college students are that the absentee ballot can be acquired with no excuses needed,” said Matthew Fular, Schoolcraft College student and Phi Theta Kappa Vice President of Service. “All of the people I know who are in college have a job, if not two, which makes it difficult to make time to go to the polls on the day of an election. Being able to request an absentee ballot with no strings attached would be beneficial for all those who cannot get out to vote without disrupting their daily lives.”
What to expect
Michigan currently does not allow for the straight-ticket voting. Straight-ticket voting, or straight-party voting, occurs when a voter makes a single mark on the ballot which will then vote for every candidate of the party during a partisan election such as federal, state and local races. Other policy changes would include automatic voter registration, which in the state of Michigan would change from no automatic voter registration to providing voters with automatic voter registration when renewing or obtaining a state ID or driver’s license unless otherwise declined, as well as the deadline to register to vote in-person.
Currently, eligible individuals are able to register to vote in-person at the clerk’s office 30 days prior to any election. The amended policy would allow voters to register in person at the clerk’s office 14 days prior to the election, as well as same day at the polls. Lastly, the deadline to register to vote by mail would change from 30 days prior to an election to 15 days prior to an election.
For more information pertaining to Proposal 3 and other issues on the Nov. 6 ballot, visit michigan.gov/sos