Court: Michigan voters may decide on expanding voting access

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A question will appear on the November ballot on whether Michigan should expand opportunities to vote, including through absentee and early voting, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled Thursday.

The court sided with supporters of Promote the Vote 2022, a coalition of organizations that submitted signatures to put the proposed constitutional amendment before voters.

The measure would require state-funded absentee ballot drop boxes, as well as postage for absentee ballots and applications, and allow voters to join a permanent list to have absentee ballots sent for every election. It also would allow Michigan voters to verify their identity with a signed statement or a photo ID, and it would require nine days of in-person early voting.

Khalilah Spencer, board president for Promote the Vote 2022, said in a statement following the court’s decision that the initiative “will help ensure that every Michigan voter’s voice is heard.”

Republicans oppose the measures, saying it would open the door to fraud. In Michigan and elsewhere, the GOP has been pushing stricter rules around voting, and repeating President Donald Trump’s lie that the 2020 election was stolen from him. Trump lost the state and the presidency to Joe Biden.

Promote the Vote asked the court to order a state elections board to certify the measure for the Nov. 8 ballot after the Board of State Canvassers voted along party lines on Aug. 31 not to do so. The four-member board’s two Democrats said the initiative should be on the ballot, while its two Republicans said it should not. The board meets Friday in Lansing.

The Republican members and other opponents said some of the language on the petitions was unclear, and Michigan GOP spokesman Gus Portela called it “a dangerous proposition.”

Promote the Vote argued it submitted more than enough signatures to meet the 425,000-signature requirement to be certified, and called opponents’ arguments against it “frivolous.”

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Burnett reported from Chicago.

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Joey Cappelletti is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

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