As Republicans around the country work hard to restrict voter access, Democrats are doing the opposite. On the same day a federal judge forced Ohio to reopen early voting for its residents, the Michigan Democratic Party announced an important and major step forward in helping Michiganders access the ballot by apply for them online using a mobile device (smartphone or tablet.)
Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz was on hand for the press conference yesterday where the MDP unveiled its new initiative. MDP Chair Lon Johnson described what the program:
With many voters having to be away from their communities on Election Day due to work, childcare and other responsibilities, more and more voters are using absentee voting as a way of casting their ballot – as shown by the fact that more than 27 percent of votes cast in Michigan’s 2012 election were absentee ballots. We couldn’t be happier to be making this program available for voters all over Michigan.
Godfrey Dillard, a Detroit civil rights attorney and the Democratic candidate for Michigan Secretary of State, gave the program his full endorsement.
I’m thrilled to join this announcement, because we should be promoting common sense, secure ways for more people to have access to the democratic process in our state. As Michigan’s Secretary of State, I will work tirelessly to protect the fundamental right to vote, restore transparency, and promote accessibility for all. Increasing access to the ballot and empowering more Michiganders to vote should be job #1 for elections officials in our state – not more partisan Republican politics aimed at keeping Michigan citizens from the polls.
Wasserman Schultz put this effort into prospective. “There is a clear contrast in the fundamental priorities of the Democratic and Republican parties,” she said. “While Republicans in Michigan attempt to implement unnecessary voting restrictions, Democrats like those here in Michigan will continue working to remove these voting barriers to ensure that every eligible citizen can cast their ballot.”
You can apply for your absentee ballot by going to MIAbsentee.com on your smartphone or tablet. After you have filled out the online forms, you sign it with your finger or stylus and then submit it. A fax will be sent to your local clerk who will verify that you are qualified and then send you a ballot. That ballot then must be either mailed back to the clerk or turned in to the clerk’s office in person.
Note that your information must match the Qualified Voter File exactly. If your address in the QVF is “123 Main Street”, inputting “123 Main St.” will not work. If you have trouble, there is a phone number listed on the website where you can call for assistance. Work is underway to help resolve this.
In Michigan, we still don’t have “no excuse” absentee voting. You can vote absentee under these conditions:
- You are age 60 years old or older
- You are unable to vote without assistance at the polls
- You expect to be out of town on Election Day
- You are in jail awaiting arraignment or trial
- You are unable to attend the polls due to religious reasons
- You are appointed to work as an election inspector in a precinct outside of your precinct of residence
You can learn more about absentee voting HERE.
I give major kudos to the MDP for this. Republicans know that Michigan is a blue state and the more people that vote, the better Democrats will do. So, instead of encouraging our citizens to do their civic duty by voting, they work to depress turnout. It’s un-American and anti-Democratic.
Photos by Anne C. Savage]