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issues - convenient voting

Election laws have not kept up with the needs of today's busy voters. No excuse absentee voting and early voting will make it more convenient for people to vote.  We need election laws that serve today's busier, more complex world and fit with the lifestyle of today's families.  Michigan voters - regardless of age, political party, gender or income - overwhelmingly support no excuse absentee voting and early voting.  Local clerks are confident that these reforms will not lead to election fraud and the majority of Michigan voters agree. 

Early voting and no excuse absentee voting are ways to make it more convenient for people to vote.  A recent poll found that 70% of Michigan voters support these measures, including a majority of both Republicans and Democrats (Denno-Noor Research, March 2010).

Click here to view an August, 2014 updte of Michigan's Voting Laws.


early voting
Early voting systems allow voters to cast their ballot or complete their absentee ballot in-person during a designated time period prior to Election Day, typically at an election administrator’s office or a satellite voting location. Thirty-two states offer some form of early voting without requiring a reason, including neighbors Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, and Wisconsin.  Voting locations vary by state and include places such as county and state offices, schools, libraries, and shopping centers. The time period for early voting also varies but most often is available for a period of 10-14 days before Election Day.

Early voting is usually conducted on the same equipment used in a regular election, which allows for voting errors to be detected and corrected by the voter when the ballot is cast.  In-person absentee voting is a variation of early voting.  In communities that use optical scanners, the absentee ballot may be scanned by the voting machine before it is sealed in the envelope; otherwise, voters do not have the opportunity to correct errors.  In any case, early ballots are not officially counted until Election Day.

Early voting is a growing national trend, with nearly one-third of all votes cast early in the 2008 national election.  Michigan clerks indicate that there is much interest in early voting.  Voters mistakenly assume that Michigan has this option, because of its widespread use elsewhere, and come to clerks’ offices expecting to be able to vote.  Clerks accommodate these requests by accepting in-person absentee ballots, if the individual is eligible to vote absentee.

No Excuse Absentee Voting 
Absentee ballots are available in every state for residents who cannot make it to the polls.  Twenty-nine states offer “no excuse” absentee voting, allowing any registered voter to vote absentee without a reason, including neighbors Illinois, Ohio, and Wisconsin.  Voters apply for and receive the ballot prior to the election, complete it at their convenience, and return it by mail.

In Michigan, voters are not free to vote absentee but must select from a limited list of reasons when requesting an absentee ballot.  This disqualifies most eligible voters from obtaining an absentee ballot.  People over 60, many of whom are retirees, can vote absentee by right.  Yet the busiest demographic – working moms and dads – do not have this opportunity.

There is no evidence that no excuse absentee voting will lead to fraud or otherwise jeopardize the integrity of Michigan’s elections, a concern raised by opponents.  This objection typically is based on problems with invalid voter registrations, which are easily detected by clerks.  Michigan’s clerks and clerk associations are confident that our laws and election procedures provide strong protections against voting fraud.  Additionally, two-thirds of Michigan voters indicate that fraud is not a concern in adopting no excuse absentee or early voting.