Following a massive success in absentee voting during the coronavirus pandemic in Michigan, mail-in voting may become the new normal. This state senator has a plan to do just that.
MICHIGAN — Following stunning successes Gov. Gretchen Whitmer laid out in the May 5 election that The ‘Gander reported earlier this week, new legislation could make Michigan mail-in voting a new normal.
Senate Bill 909 would totally end in-person voting in Michigan.
Voters would automatically receive absentee ballots and be able to either drop them off or mail them in. Same-day registration would be handled by individual clerk’s offices.
“Voting by mail will make voting less expensive, easier for voters, and more secure,” State Sen. Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) said to WXYZ. “This system will save money and give voters more time to consider down-ballot races or proposals that may be complicated, or not explained well, by the ballot language.”
This is a natural next step after the no-reason absentee voting The ‘Gander previously reported on proved to be as much of a game-changer as predicted, and May’s elections provided a proof-of-concept for en-masse Michigan mail-in voting.
Concerns about how to best facilitate people who need help at physical polling locations who are voting by mail during the pandemic are already being addressed. After a lawsuit brought the issues to the attention of Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, her office has been working to find long-term solutions to absentee ballot accessibility, The ‘Gander reports.
The May 5 election made an impressive test-case for large-scale absentee voting operations, with clerks characterizing the process as smooth and turnout shattering previous records for a May election. As The ‘Gander reports this came about because the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic prompted Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to mail every Michigander absentee ballot application. And though there were lessons learned to make August elections run a bit more smoothly, by and large the process was painless.
“Even in this time of uncertainty, Democracy continues to thrive in Michigan.” Benson wrote in an op-ed for MLive.
“Tuesday’s election also demonstrated that we have the tools and people we need to carry out elections that are safe, accurate and secure. Among them are our citizens’ constitutional right to vote by mail, and our hard working clerks and local election officials.”
Applying that process across the board would also eliminate the absentee ballot application process, which confused some Michiganders, reported The ‘Gander.
“Voting by mail and from home with absentee ballots is already a proven, secure system that has been used by millions of voters, including people serving in our military and those who simply like to vote at their kitchen table,” Irwin said. “Improving Michigan’s voting system makes sense anytime, but it is especially urgent to prepare for the impact that COVID-19 may have on recruiting election workers and on public sentiment toward voters gathering at physical polling locations. Since there is a cheaper, easier way to vote, let’s do it now.”
Though it should be noted that President Trump is not a supporter of Michigan mail-in voting. Despite having voted by mail himself, he argued that the process was inherently rife with fraud. That claim was thoroughly debunked by the New York Times. In a case of saying the quiet part out loud, Trump tweeted that his concern is that vote-by-mail isn’t advantageous to Republicans.
“Republicans should fight very hard when it comes to state wide mail-in voting. Democrats are clamoring for it,” Trump tweeted at Fox and Friends. “Tremendous potential for voter fraud, and for whatever reason, doesn’t work out well for Republicans.”
So far, there haven’t been any major reports of voter fraud from Michigan’s mail-in voting record-breaking election.
“Tuesday was an inspiring day. Our first – and hopefully only – election held during the COVID-19 pandemic went forward on schedule and was accessible and secure,” Benson wrote. “With so many citizens choosing to vote by mail, no voter had to choose between their health and their vote. Those who did vote in person were greeted by heroic election workers providing clean and safe spaces.”
Benson also praised clerks and election workers.
“This shift to holding the elections primarily by mail was decided less than two months ago, yet clerks and local election officials carried them out with tremendous poise and grace. I have said it before, but democracy is a team sport, and election workers are the most valuable players.”