Election Reform Ballot Proposal Sparks Opposition in Michigan

Election Reform Ballot Proposal Sparks Opposition in Michigan
A voter fills in his ballot in Lansing, Mich., on Nov. 3, 2020. (John Moore/Getty Images)
Steven Kovac

Three former Michigan secretaries of state issued a joint statement this week urging a “no” vote on a citizen-initiated ballot proposal that would legalize the private funding of elections, require absentee ballot drop boxes in every community, and do away with mandatory photo identification for in-person voters.

Proposal 2 would allow a would-be voter to present a signed affidavit attesting to his or her identity instead of a state-issued photo ID.

For the 24 years prior to the 2018 election of Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat, the office was held by Republicans.

On Oct. 24, Benson’s three Republican predecessors announced their opposition to Proposal 2.

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson addresses the virtual 2020 Democratic National Convention on Aug. 20, 2020. (DNCC via Getty Images)
Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson addresses the virtual 2020 Democratic National Convention on Aug. 20, 2020. (DNCC via Getty Images)

“This is a dangerous proposal [that] would prohibit us from ever requiring photo ID to vote,” said former Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson, who now serves as chairperson of the Elections Committee in the Michigan state Senate.

Voter ID requirements are very popular with the people of Michigan.

A statewide poll conducted in May 2021 by the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Glengariff Group found that 79.7 percent of Michigan registered voters surveyed supported the photo ID requirement for every in-person voter.

In October 2021, the Republican-controlled state legislature passed legislation requiring that a photo ID be presented in order to vote in person.

The measure also would have furnished a free state-issued photo ID card to any voter who needed one.

The measure was vetoed by Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat.

Whitmer has vetoed more than half a dozen election integrity measures that have been sent to her desk by the Michigan Legislature, contending that they’re nothing but “voter suppression” and that they perpetuate the “Big Lie” that the 2020 presidential election was somehow stolen.

Another former Republican Michigan secretary of state, Terri Lynn Land, who’s currently a member of the Wayne State University Board of Governors, said in the joint statement that “Proposal 2 would allow nongovernmental third parties to fund our elections ... allowing special interest groups to pay for them.”

“People want fair and impartial elections and allowing special interest groups to pay for them is 100 percent in conflict with that,” Land said.

Opponents of Proposal 2 point out that it contains no requirement that private donations be divided equally between communities—something Republicans fear would benefit the state’s Democrat-controlled large cities.

Candice Miller, also a former Michigan secretary of state and U.S. congresswoman, who now serves as the Macomb County Public Works Commissioner, said, “This proposal would instruct clerks to mail absentee ballots, rather than applications, to many voters each year.”

According to Miller, mailing out actual ballots before they’ve been requested by a voter is problematic.

“Voters who have moved or died would be mailed ballots ... and that is not a good idea,” she said.

The main backers of Proposal 2 are the Michigan chapters of the League of Women Voters, the NAACP, and the American Civil Liberties Union.

Shelli Weisberg, political director of the ACLU of Michigan, wrote on the organization’s website that the provisions of Proposal 2 “are common-sense measures ... [that] will block the ability of partisan election deniers to interfere in the outcome of an election.”

“If passed, Prop. 2 will: create nine days of in-person early voting ... [and] provide state funding for secure ballot drop boxes, postage for absentee ballots, and absentee ballot tracking,”  she wrote.

According to Weisberg, Proposal 2 would also count ballots from military and overseas voters that are postmarked by election day and received within six days of the election.

She said Proposal 2 would “allow voters to request an absentee ballot for all future elections.”

Michigan political consultant Jamie Roe. (Courtesy of Team Roe)
Michigan political consultant Jamie Roe. (Courtesy of Team Roe)

Spokesperson Jamie Roe of SecureMiVote, a coalition of citizens opposed to Proposal 2, told The Epoch Times in an Oct. 25 interview, “The voters of Michigan need to see through the carefully crafted, positive sounding language of the proposal.

“In reality, Proposal 2 would make unconstitutional every bill passed by the legislature, and vetoed by Whitmer, that was designed to bring greater integrity and security to our elections.

“Given the deplorable condition of Michigan’s voter roll—with move-aways and dead people remaining on the list for decades—by far the most dangerous part of the proposal is the section that allows a voter to sign a one-time application for an absentee ballot and then be mailed an absentee ballot for every subsequent election forever.”

Benson drew the ire of election integrity advocates when she mailed, at taxpayers’ expense, an absentee ballot application to every registered voter in the state in the 2020 election cycle.

She’s also being sued by the Public Interest Legal Foundation for her failure to remove more than 25,975 dead people from Michigan voter rolls.

Steven Kovac reports for The Epoch Times from Michigan. He is a general news reporter who has covered topics related to rising consumer prices to election security issues. He can be reached at [email protected]
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