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Michigan voting rights amendment drive launched

person dropping absentee ballot into ballot box
Jodi Westrick
Michigan Radio

A petition drive wants to put a question on the November ballot to enshrine new voting rights in the state constitution.

The Promote the Vote campaign is focused on making it easier for more people to vote.

The proposed amendment would allow nine days of early voting and ballot drop boxes. It would also let people opt to be put on a list to have absentee ballots automatically sent to them for all future elections.

Nada Al-Hanooti is with Emgage Michigan, an advocacy organization. She says the amendment would make it easier for immigrants who become citizens and people in low-income areas to be part of the political process.

“And that all begins with making voting more accessible to ensure our most marginalized members are able to participate in our democracy,” she said during an online press conference.

"The nine days of early voting provides convenience to many, including parents, elderly voters, voters with disabilities, and providing a free postage and permanent absentee ballot list will encourage others to participate more in our political process,” Al-Hanooti said.

The campaign has until early July to gather slightly more than 425,000 signatures of registered voters to qualify for the November ballot.

Voting rights were a contentious issue in the last election, and that’s expected to be the case again this year.

“This is so important for the moment that we find ourselves in as a nation and as a state,” said Yvonne White, with the Michigan NAACP. “Michigan voters should be given a choice in how to shape our democracy.”

There is also a separate petition in the field to initiate a law that would run counter to the amendment. If both are adopted, the constitutional provisions would prevail.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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