Michigan Has Election Integrity Baked into its Constitution, but It is Still Under Attack
Back in 2018, Michigan created one of the very best systems to ensure election integrity and guarantee legitimate election outcomes. This system, chosen by 67% of voters, was called “Prop 3” and added 8 voting policies to Michigan’s constitution to improve voter participation across the state.
Key elements of Prop 3 include: automatic voter registration, same-day registration, no-excuse absentee voting, straight-ticket voting, and a state-wide audit. Prop 3 also gives discretion to City and Township Clerks to increase evening and weekend hours for early voting and voter registration, open additional absentee voting locations, create a permanent absentee voter list, and set up drop boxes.
However, legislative attempts in Michigan would limit election integrity by making voting harder and undermining key provisions of Michigan’s constitution. “Secure MI Vote” would circumvent “Prop 3” by directly enacting restrictions, including ID requirements on in-person voting, limiting outside funding for elections, and prohibiting mailing ballot applications to all voters if successful. A November 2021 study found that, if successful, this initiative could eliminate 20% of polling locations in the state.
If these changes actually improved election integrity or security it would be one thing, but the current system is not causing election fraud. In June 2021, the Republican-led Michigan Senate Oversight Committee released a report concluding they found no evidence of voter fraud during their months-long investigation into the 2020 election results.
Even though there was no election fraud in Michigan, these laws would try and limit citizens' freedom to vote by making it more difficult for them to get to the polls. These challenges will be particularly tough for elderly Michiganders, who could face long lines and wait times up to 2 hours in cold weather to cast their ballots.
As of July 2022, Secure MI Vote says it gathered 514,294 signatures – but many of those were confirmed to be fraudulent. Because of the estimated 20,000 fraudulent signatures, the initiative missed its deadline to submit to the Secretary of State on June 1st, disqualifying the measure from appearing on 2022 ballots.
It's likely that this group will attempt to bring this measure to a vote in the next election.
Disrupting Election Integrity on Election Day
While the voting legislation is being decided–some candidates for elected office have publicly encouraged poll workers to unplug voting machines if they suspect fraud and that people should come armed to the polls.
Others have advocated for changing the rules so that election challengers, who are legally allowed to observe election workers in close proximity without ever communicating with them, can also take photos and videos of voters, likely disrupting the voting process.
What's At Stake for Michigan
Election Integrity depends on citizens being able to exercise their freedom to vote in secure elections, and cast their secret ballot without undue challenge. But if Michigan pursues laws to undermine Prop 3, these freedoms will be at risk.
Michiganders Push Back
Many Michiganders believe early voting is an essential option for working voters to participate in elections. That's why they have started the petition "Promote the Vote" which would mandate nine days of early in-person voting and prohibit harassment while voting, among other measures.
The proposed constitutional amendment would also require that post-election audits only be conducted by state and local officials, and that canvassing boards only certify election results based on official vote counts.
Bob Thompson, president of the Michigan Farmers Union, said the proposed amendment would especially benefit rural voters by increasing ballot drop box locations and improving absentee ballot tracking. Advocates also say it would help military and overseas voters by requiring their ballots be postmarked by election day and received within six days of the election, instead of received by the close of polls on election day.
PTV submitted 669,972 signatures in July 2022, many more than the 425,059 required to be considered to go on the ballot in the next election. The Michigan Bureau of Elections will check signatures and report its findings and ballot recommendation to the Bureau of State Canvassers. The two Republicans on the four-member, bipartisan panel blocked the measure from appearing on the ballot. Promote the Vote organizers have appealed the decision.