PROTECT ACCESS TO THE BALLOT

Published on February 8, 2022 in

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Protect the right to vote! Don’t sign the Secure MI Vote ballot initiative.

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Man Putting Vote in Ballot Box Close Up

A concerning ballot initiative called “Secure MI Vote” was approved for signature collection in September and is moving forward. If enacted, the proposal would put new, unnecessary hurdles between eligible voters and the ballot box, which would inevitably result in reduced turnout from traditionally disenfranchised voters. Many provisions would threaten access for voters with disabilities, seniors, students, low–income voters, and voters in Black and brown communities.  

The initiative includes a variety of changes and restrictions which would solve no known issues with Michigan elections, but would create a number of new problems that local election administrators on both sides of the aisle have spoken out against, including: 

  • Requiring clerks to pay fair market value for the use of buildings for elections and prohibiting churches and other entities from donating their space. 
    • This imposes an unnecessary financial burden on local governments that will inevitably force clerks in low-income areas to consolidate polling locations, reducing the total number of voting locations. This change would increase the distance voters need to travel, creating a new barrier for those who lack access to transportation, and would also lead to longer lines, confusion and crowding of precincts on election day, all while stretching local clerks budgets too thin to deal with the additional challenges. 
  • Prohibiting the use of volunteer staff for elections. 
    • The broad language of this ballot initiative would prohibit local clerks from using volunteers to staff elections. Volunteers are crucial to ensuring local elections are secure and efficient and without them, local governments would be required to pay for more election staff, putting further strain on their resources and ability to conduct elections.  
  • Requiring voters to include their driver’s license number and the last four digits of their social security number on their application for an absentee ballot. 
    • Local clerks oppose this provision as there has been no evidence of fraud and these new requirements could increase likelihood of identity theft. 

The Secure MI Vote ballot initiative contains a number of additional harmful provisions that will make it more difficult for local clerks to administer efficient, accessible elections and dramatically hamper access to the ballot for many members of our community.  

This proposal works in direct contradiction with the new rights Michigan voters overwhelmingly enacted in a 2018 ballot initiative, which significantly expanded access to absentee voting and made it easier to register. 

In summary, this proposal will do measurable harm to voter access while having no discernible benefit for voters or Michigan elections.  

Tell your friends and family not to sign the Secure MI Vote ballot initiative!    

Why this is important to United Way

Advocating for voter rights and equitable access to the ballot is an important and longstanding part of our work at United Way. Ensuring the voice of our community is heard loud and clear by local leaders and policymakers is essential to the advancement of our mission. 

In 2018, United Way supported the Promote the Vote ballot initiative that was approved by Michigan voters and dramatically increased access to the ballot. We are dedicated to protecting and continuing to improve access to the ballot so all Michigan citizens can participate and feel confident that their vote has been counted.