More people are expected to vote in this midterm election than any other, in the history of the state of Michigan. Proposal two wants to make it even easier and increase those numbers going forward.
But there’s a reason election security has been a hot button, almost nuclear, talking point in the past few years. Would more access make elections less secure?
That’s what will be in front of voters with Proposal two.
“Prop two is a little bit different that doesn’t excite passion in the same way the abortion issue and term limits issue does,” said Adrian Hemond, a Democrat Strategist and founder of Grassroots Midwest.
While not getting the headlines and attention of the other two proposals, the one in the middle has the chance to change the way Michigan votes forever.
“In general, most people think that access to the franchise is a good thing. I think in general most people also think that secure ballot access is a good thing,” said Hemond, “This proposal is all about ballot access.
Election reform is a broad topic with two major arms, access and security.
“The legislature has been trying to push it in the other direction towards the security piece, and less towards the increased access piece,” said Hemond, “So they just decided to take their case directly to the voters.”
“What this Proposal two will do is declare that you have a fundamental right to vote,” said Michael McDaniel, constitutional law professor at WMU Cooley Law School, “It specifically uses that wording.”
So what does the prop say? Voters will make one yes or no decision on adding nine changes to the constitution.
First, it recognizes the fundamental right to vote and nobody can take that away.
“In some states, ones particularly driven by Democrats who feel that in certain election years like non-presidential years there’s a lower turn out because working class people who are just trying to get by and get that stuff done,” said John Sellek, Republican strategist and founder of Harbor Strategic, “They don’t have the time to pay attention and go and vote, and they want to make it as easy as possible.”
It would also make it easier for the overseas military to vote, pay postage for absentee ballots, tighten the canvassing process and mandate enough ballot drop boxes. Prop two would also allow for nine days of in-person voting leading up to Election Day. A very popular idea embraced in many states.
“It’s rare that one of these ballot initiatives are put together on the pure goodness of someone’s heart,” said Sellek.
The controversy lies in the other aspects tied to the popular changes.
“Prop two has a lot of those side issues that are going on the public is never going to truly have the time to look at or understand,” said Sellek, “And because it’ll be in the Constitution, we really won’t be able to adjust it very easily going forward should something go haywire.”
It will allow for private entities to donate to help fund these changes, with full disclosure. It would codify a photo ID is not needed but a signature is and will be compared to your signature on file. Voters would just have to apply once to receive an absentee ballot for every election.
The past three Secretaries of State, Terri Lynn Land, Candice Miller and Ruth Johnson, have come out against Prop two, each citing one of these issues.
“They are politicians, they have their views, and I just disagree with them,” said Chris Thomas.
Thomas was the state election director for nearly 40 years. He worked under each of those secretaries. He’s a supporter of the proposal saying these changes are all used in various states across the country, red and blue, with little issues.
The biggest issue will be the payment of these new services. Local clerks will have to cover.
“It would mandate that early voting be provided for nine days before the election,” said Ben Marentette, Traverse City’s clerk, “And so those are resources that would have to be brought to the table to accomplish that task.”
That’s why they want private donations allowed, because when access expanded in 2018, the state offered no financial assistance to make it work.
“Really the legislature is the one who should come forward and provide the resources for these clerks to run their elections,” said Thomas, “And then there would be no need for outside money.”
Despite the term “fundamental right to vote,” the legislature can still shape that structure for what it really means.
“Including limiting the vote to individuals who are mentally ill or incarcerated for having that right, or having a very restricted right,” said McDaniel.
If passed, Prop two would dramatically change the voting process again in Michigan and open the door for even more changes in the future.
“This is probably going to pass in November ballot and then in our next even year election, there will probably be something on the ballot from Republicans,” said Hemond, “To try to increase election security.”