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New ballot initiative aims to make voting easier in Michigan

Posted at 6:24 PM, Feb 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-08 18:24:40-05

LANSING, Mich. — A new ballot initiative is aiming to solidify voting rights in Michigan.

The Promote the Vote 2022 ballot initiative wants to see better access to drop boxes, paid postage for absentee ballots and allow voters to track their ballots.

“It's a package of proposals that would move Michigan forward to increase both the security and the access of our elections and make sure we have a voting system that works for everyone," said Sharon Dolente, a senior adviser for the campaign. "So the part that I think voters would notice most immediately is the opportunity to vote early in person.”

The package also includes provisions to streamline the process to request an absentee ballot, extend the deadline for military and overseas voters and provides better access to drop boxes.

“Promote the Vote 2022 wants to see more citizens in the state of Michigan participating in our elections and making their voice heard and we want to make sure that each voter that takes the time and performs their civic duty of making their voice heard has the confidence that their vote is counted," she said.

Professor Matt Grossmann, who serves as the director of the Institute for Public Policy and Social Research at MSU, says there are a couple possible outcomes if the initiative is passed and the changes are implemented.

“One outcome we've talked about is potentially higher turnout. Another outcome is that people would be voting earlier," he said. "So what that means is they would be less likely to be influenced by things that happen very late in the campaign.”

In other words, it could change the way campaigns look.

“Certainly, campaign actors might act differently," he said. "If they thought that, say half the electorate would be voting before Election Day, they might not hold off their last minute attacks. They might want to respond more quickly when their opponent says something. And so overall, it should sort of move campaigning slightly earlier.”

But Grossmann says there might not be major changes to actual voter turnout if the ballot initiative is implemented.

“Overall, this is sort of a curious debate where both partisan sides believe that they will benefit from these kinds of election changes," he said.

Democrats often believe that more drop boxes and early voting opportunities will benefit their candidates. In the same way— the GOP often believes stricter voting restrictions, like fewer drop boxes and more people voting in-person and on election day will benefit them.

“But we really don't have any evidence of that," Grossmann said. "So it turns out that there aren't really big partisan changes in the electorate as a result of these voter changes. Even when there are changes in turnout, changes tend to turn out tends to go up on both sides rather than on only one side.”

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