ANN ARBOR – The Ann Arbor City Council last night approved a resolution in support of expanded opportunities to take advantage of voting rights by extending voting hours and locations for voter registration and casting of absentee ballots. The resolution, passed with a unanimous 5-0 vote, includes a request to the Ann Arbor City Clerk to develop a plan to expand voting and registration access beyond the minimum required by the Michigan Constitution and include the cost of this plan in the budget request for the Office of the City Clerk.
“Proposal 3 championed by the ACLU of Michigan, the League of Women Voters, NAACP, and other important partners brought huge improvements to voting access across Michigan,” said Jamie Lyons-Eddy, Director of Campaigns & Programs for Voters Not Politicians. “Now, every eligible voter can cast an absentee ballot for no reason, either by mail or in person, and can register right through Election Day. So people can either vote by mail, or can go directly to their local clerk’s office to register, get an absentee ballot, and even vote on the spot.”
Following broad support for expanded voting rights in the 2018 election, Voters Not Politicians launched the “Nights & Weekends” program to coordinate with local elected officials and clerks to support extended hours for registration and absentee voting during the evenings and weekends leading up to elections – especially in areas where turnout has been low in recent elections. Voters Not Politicians volunteers played a key role in collaborating with Ann Arbor City Council to pass the resolution in support of extended voting hours and locations.
“Many people work during regular clerk’s office hours,” said Jonathan Levine, Voters Not Politicians volunteer and professor at the University of Michigan. “I’m proud that Ann Arbor is taking these steps to make sure voting is accessible to young voters, new voters, and working people by providing extended weekend and evening hours. This is an opportunity to encourage full participation in our democracy.”
The resolution includes the following guidelines for recommendations: “[F]or even-year November General Elections, the plan should include, at a minimum, a) 24 open-office service hours beyond both ordinary business hours and the constitutional eight-hour weekend requirement during which time citizens may register and vote, and b) registration and absentee balloting at a satellite location designed to improve access over exclusive reliance on the Office of the City Clerk in City Hall; and c) broad publicity for the extra hours for registration and voting.”