Sep 26, 2008
No reason absentee voting gets OK in the Michigan House
LANSING – The Michigan House passed House Bill 4048 sponsored by Rep. Martin Griffin, D-Jackson, on Thursday with a bipartisan vote of 65-41 that will allow Michigan voters to vote with an absentee ballot for no reason.
Current Michigan law allows people to vote A/B for only six reasons: age 60 years old or older, unable to vote without assistance at the polls, expecting to be out of town on election day, in jail awaiting arraignment or trial, unable to attend the polls due to religious reasons or are appointed to work as an election inspector in a precinct outside of your precinct of residence.
Michigan will join 28 other states that allow no reason A/B voting if the bill becomes law. The bill has widespread support. Those in support of the bill include the Michigan Campaign Finance Network, the Michigan Association of County Clerks, the Michigan Association of Municipal, the Michigan League of Women Voters and the Michigan Townships Association. Only the Republican Secretary of State is neutral on the bill.
It will most likely stall in the Republican controled Senate in an effort to keep voter turnout small. A recent U.S. Census survey said more than 7.5 million people said they did not vote because of “logistical reasons." Sen. Liz Brater, D-Ann Arbor, introduced the companion bill in the Senate, SB 12, but that is stalled.
Surprisingly, or not surprisingly, Livingston County's own Rep. Chris Ward, R-Brighton, was one of those against it. He said there were "too many loopholes and ballots are more subject to voter fraud under a no-reason absentee voting system." I have no idea what voter fraud he is talking about, but the former Brighton Township Clerk has flip-flopped on the issue. He now said he favors early voting.
In the last session he sponsored HB 4569 that was approved by the House on April 25, 2005 and sent to the Senate where all bills go to die. The bill allowed no reason A/B in person for seven days before the election.
In 2003 he introduced HB 4058 that went no where in the then GOP-controlled House. It was basically a no reason A/B bill. It proposed to change the provision that said a person may vote A/B if the voter "is not confident he or she will be available to attend the polls on election day" instead of "is absent or expects to be absent from the township or city in which he or she resides during the entire period that polls are open for voting on the day of an election."