Dec 5, 2008

House passes early voting bill that will not get by Senate Republicans

The Michigan House continued its quest to improve voter turnout and make it easier for people to exercise their Constitutional right to vote. This time, the House approved a bill that will allow early voting in Michigan.

On Thursday, the House approved House Bill 4090 by a vote of 58-50 that will allow Michigan the same convenience we saw voters in other states enjoy. The common sense measure gives local clerk's plenty of leeway in how to do it.

The polls will be open on Friday, Saturday and Monday before each election. The clerk's office is already required to be open on the last Saturday before the election to collect absentee ballots, so it's just an extra two days. The clerk only has to open one polling place, instead of all the precincts, which could just be the local township, village or city hall where the clerk is already. It also only requires the polling place to be open for eight hours a day, and the clerk can pick the hours.

This will increase voter turnout by being open for working people on the weekend. The problem is this bill is tie-barred to HB 4048, a bill to allow people to vote with an absentee ballot for no reason. But the Republican-controlled Senate has jumped through hoops to disentrance voters, and it refuses to allow a vote on HB 4048, that was just approved by the House in September, as well refusing to act on the Senate version.

The Senate has been the biggest obstacle to getting anything passed, and it took one more step in that direction this week.

Thursday was the last scheduled session day during the Lame Duck session, and all bills not passed by the end of the month are dead. There are three tentative session days scheduled for next week, and three the week of Dec. 16. But when the Senate adjoined on Thursday afternoon, Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop, R-Rochester, surprised the entire Senate when he said the Senate will not come back until Wednesday instead of Tuesday, meaning there is now only a maximum of five days left to accomplish some major legislation.

The House was in session from 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Thursday in an attempt to address this major legislation, but Bishop's ego is again holding the state hostage.

According to subscription only MIRS and Gongwer, Bishop said the Senate will not address any legislation until Gov. Jennifer Granholm issues her budget-cutting Executive Order. But the Governor has said all along she wants to wait on cuts in light of plans for a federal stimulus package, as well as talks on cuts with legislative leaders. Why not have an agreement or a consonance in place on cuts before an EO with cuts is issued.

You will have to ask Bishop's ego.

No comments: