Changes come as Nights & Weekends grassroots program expands to encourage extended clerk hours, satellite locations
MICHIGAN–Voters Not Politicians joins with NAACP of Kalamazoo, WeVote, Kalamazoo YWCA, League of Women Voters of Kalamazoo Area, and the ACLU to celebrate another victory to expand voting access through extended clerk hours in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
“We applaud the leadership in Kalamazoo and cities and townships across the state for going above and beyond to make sure that voters have a safe, secure way to cast their ballots in August and November,” said Kim Murphy-Kovalick, State Field Director for Voters Not Politicians. “Our volunteers played a critical role in bringing these changes to fruition, and we look forward to having more municipalities join the effort to make voting accessible to all through expanded clerk hours and satellite locations to reduce the amount of in-person voting and protect public health.”
The Kalamazoo City Commission unanimously passed a resolution introduced by Commissioner Chris Praedel on September 21 establishing four ballot drop box locations, offering pre-paid postage, expanded Nights & Weekends hours totalling 16 above and beyond normal clerk hours, and a satellite clerk office at Western Michigan University. Commissioner Praedel acknowledged the role Voters Not Politicians volunteers and partners played in expanding voter access.
“We’re so excited that Kalamazoo voters will have additional opportunities to guarantee that our votes are counted in the November election,” said Jessica Swartz, volunteer with Voters Not Politicians. “Thank you to our community partners, Kalamazoo City Clerk Scott Borling, Commissioner Chris Praedel, and his fellow commissioners who stepped up to ensure we have access to safe, secure, and convenient options to make sure our voices are heard.”
In 2018, 67% of Michigan voters approved Proposal 3 following a successful campaign by the Promote the Vote coalition. As a result, Michigan voters secured two important new voting rights: same-day voter registration and no-reason absentee voting. These amendments to the state constitution make it easier for Michigan voters to cast their ballots and make it safer for voters during the COVID-19 pandemic. Research shows that access to voting outside of regular business hours significantly increases voter turnout. Increased hours can also reduce crowding and long lines at clerk offices right before the election.
VNP launched its Nights & Weekends program in mid-2019 to increase access to voting in Michigan by collaborating with local clerks to expand hours for registration and absentee voting in the evenings and weekends leading up to elections. Kalamazoo joins Pontiac, Berkley, Ferndale, Farmington Hills, East Lansing, Sterling Heights, Livonia, and Ann Arbor as cities that have passed resolutions or implemented policy changes to expand voting access.