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Voting rights amendment drive launched

The box is shown on a sunny day. It's white with protective poles on either side, which have red and gray reflectors on them.
Sehvilla Mann
A City of Kalamazoo ballot drop box in August 2020

The campaign seeks to include certain voter rights in the state constitution.

(MPRN) A petition drive wants to put a question on the November ballot to enshrine new voting rights in the state constitution. The Promote the Vote campaign is focused on making it easier for more people to vote.

Among other things, the proposed amendment would allow nine days of early voting, ballot drop boxes, and people could be put on a list to have absentee ballots automatically sent to them for all future elections.

Nada Al-Hanooti is with Emgage Michigan, an advocacy organization. She said the amendment would make it easier for immigrants who become citizens and people in low-income areas to be part of the political process.

“And that all begins with making voting more accessible to ensure our most marginalized members are able to participate in our democracy,” Al-Hanooti said during an online press conference.

“The nine days of early voting provides convenience to many, including parents, elderly voters, voters with disabilities, and providing a free postage and permanent absentee ballot list will encourage others to participate more in our political process,” she added.

The campaign has until early July to gather slightly more than 425,000 signatures of registered voters to qualify for the November ballot. Voting rights were a contentious issue in the last election and that’s expected to be the case again this year.

“This is so important for the moment that we find ourselves in as a nation and as a state,” said Yvonne White is with the Michigan NAACP. “Michigan voters should be given a choice in how to shape our democracy.”

There is also a separate petition in the field to initiate a law that would run counter to the amendment. If both are adopted, the constitutional provisions would prevail.