State reps working to make voting easier

LANSING — Two Michigan lawmakers are determined to make voting easier for Michigan residents.

State Representatives Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) and Woodrow Stanley (D-Flint) are reintroducing legislation that would make it easier for Michigan residents to vote. The two legislators are pushing forward despite no action being taken on the bills in the last legislative session.

Irwin’s bill, HB 4058, would allow voters to file an absentee ballot without justification. Currently, Michigan voters are required to give reason for submitting an absentee ballot. Voters must cite reason why an absentee vote is required.

In a press release, a reason such as being 60 years or older or being out of town during voting hours on Election Day is valid for an absentee ballot.

In Gov. Rick Snyder’s State of the State address, he mentioned no-reason absentee voting and both he and Secretary of State Ruth Johnson support the measure.

“As elected officials, we should take every available step to remove barriers to voting,” Irwin said, in a press release. “This proposal has bipartisan support, and I look forward to seeing action on this bill this year.”

Stanley’s bill, HB 4103, focuses on establishing early voting in Michigan.

Last November’s election had some Michigan voters waiting in line for hours to cast a ballot. Currently, there are 30 states offering early voting.

Nevada is one of the early voting states.

According to the Nevada’s Secretary of State’s website, voters are able “to vote at any location in their respective county where early voting is offered. The benefits of early voting are listed on the website. Makes voting more accessible to more citizens and increased voter participation rates are two of the benefits listed.

“Voting is among our most fundamental civil rights, and the bedrock of our system of government,” Stanley said, in a press release “We can ease cities’ burden of counting absentee ballots, and more time to vote means more voter participation. That’s something we should all embrace.”

City clerk Julie Adams showed concern for manpower if HB4048 were to be passed into legislation. Adams said the precinct would “become a very busy precinct” and the “volume would increase” making it difficult to do the job with the manpower available.

Currently, there are about 23,000 registered voters in the city of Burton.

Adams said she would like to see early voting defined. The amount of days allotted for early voting would make a difference in how Adams operates during elections. “We have to order our supplies ahead of time. If early voting passed into legislation, Adams is not sure how the state would decide the amount of days.

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