Robin Opsahl/States Newsroom
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed a package of voting rights bills Tuesday afternoon that will implement the provisions of Proposal 2 Michigan voters passed in November 2022.
The new laws include measures to extend early in-person voting to a nine-day period before Election Day, expansions to absentee voting and community ballot drop boxes and the creation of a web-based tracking system for absentee ballots.
The bicameral package was sponsored by state Sens. Jeremy Moss (D-Southfield), Sylvia Santana (D-Detroit), Mallory McMorrow (D-Royal Oak) and Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit) alongside state Reps. Matt Koleszar (D-Plymouth), Penelope Tsernoglou (D-East Lansing) and Erin Bynes (D-Dearborn). It includes Senate Bills 339, 373, 370 and 367 and House Bills 4696, 4697, 4699 and 4702.
Whitmer said that the new laws will make it easier for Michiganders to cast their votes in forthcoming elections, and will enhance security at the ballot box.
“Michiganders spoke with a clear, united voice last November when they voted overwhelmingly in favor of Proposal 2, expanding voting rights,” Whitmer said. “Today, I am proud to sign bipartisan legislation implementing the will of the people, ensuring they can make their voices heard in every election.”
The package was also supported by Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, who said she was grateful to the legislators who worked on the expansion of voting rights.
“Legislative leaders worked collaboratively with my office, local clerks, and voting rights advocates from around the state to make sure these bills provide the flexibility and resources we need to carry out the will of the voters,” Benson said. “This was a thoughtful, bipartisan effort and I’m grateful to the leaders in both chambers for getting this done. We are ready to work with Michigan’s clerks to implement these new laws in time for next year’s elections.”
Moss said that the new laws surrounding absentee and early voting would allow for Michigan’s election results to be publicized quicker and with more accuracy, something that could prove crucial as Michigan becomes an early presidential primary state in 2024.
“I’m proud to lead this effort that provides more convenient early options to vote through nine days of in-person voting before Election Day, easier ways to sign up to receive absentee ballots, required drop boxes in each community, and more,” Moss said. “This – along with early processing of absentee ballots, just as 38 other states do – will allow for our accurate election results to be published much quicker and further instill confidence that our voting systems work.”
Statements of support of the signing were published by representatives from the Michigan Association of County Clerks, the ACLU of Michigan, the Detroit and Grand Rapids branches of the NAACP and Promote The Vote, which spearheaded Proposal 2.
Ann Arbor City Clerk Jackie Beaudry, who serves as president of the Michigan Association of Municipal Clerks (MAMC), said in a statement that her organization was proud to work alongside lawmakers in crafting the legislation.
“MAMC members were honored to work side by side with our county colleagues and our legislators to help shape these important laws,” Beaudry said. “We are excited for the implementation of early voting in 2024 as approved by Michigan voters in Proposition 22-2.”
Former nonpartisan Michigan Director of Elections Christopher Thomas congratulated voters on adopting Proposal 2 and said in a statement that Michigan will now be “at the forefront of states with well-balanced election systems.”
“The legislature wasted no time enacting these reforms into law and providing financial assistance to state, county and municipal election officials, who are now well-positioned to provide new voting opportunities to Michigan voters in the 2024 election,” Thomas said.
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