Voting in Michigan is about to undergo unprecedented changes, and among those changes will be the option of at least nine days of in-person early voting.
What that looks like to voters will depend on where in the state they live.
The House and Senate both passed legislation Wednesday that lays out how it will work, leaving it to municipal and county governments to decide the exact number of early voting days and the number of polling places.
Early voting is the centerpiece of a series of landmark changes to elections that legislators are putting into place after the passage of ballot Proposal 2 last November. A package of eight bills Democrats introduced last week is now moving through the full House and Senate.
Republican state Sen. Ed McBroom, representing the 38th Senate District, broke with his political party and is the lone Republican co-sponsor of the early voting bill.
In the past, Michigan voters could vote early only through an absentee ballot, including an option to request and fill out an absentee ballot during an in-person visit to a local clerk’s office, but the ballots were then set aside to be counted on Election Day. Under the early voting bill, polling places will be open at least eight hours a day, over a minimum of nine consecutive days, and voters will cast their ballot into a tabulator to be counted on site, just as they do on Election Day.
The other bills for implementing Prop 2 allow Michigan voters to place themselves on a permanent list to automatically receive an absentee ballot every election, and mandate drop boxes and a tracking system for absentee ballots.
Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson testified last week that the early voting bill and other voting legislation will “carry out the will of the voters” after Prop 2 passed in November with 60 percent approval.
On Thursday, the voting-rights advocacy organization Voters Not Politicians appealed to volunteers to help support efforts to get funding to put the voting reforms into effect.
“Our team of staff and volunteers interviewed 35 municipal election clerks across the state and these clerks overwhelmingly stressed the need for appropriate funding in order to carry out the 2024 election. Michigan’s 1,603 election jurisdictions depend on the legislature to fund the expanded voting access that they are constitutionally required to provide,” VNP wrote in its newsletter appeal.
This story was originally published by Votebeat. Read more here: https://michigan.votebeat.org/2023/6/14/23761192/michigan-prop-2-early-in-person-voting-election-law