Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Are Republicans Trying to Make Absentee Voting Easier?

Why was this woodchuck totally annoyed to the point of whistling when he read, “New no-reason absentee voting bill backed by MichiganSOS Ruth Johnson”?

This looks like one of those incremental steps in the right direction which makes it difficult to understand why it is being sponsored by Republican State Representative Lisa Lyons and supported by Republican Secretary of State Ruth Johnson. It just makes my little woodchuck whiskers twitch; something is wrong with this.

House Bill 4724 would expand the definition of absent voter to include an elector who applies in person at the clerk's office and who presents photo identification and expand the 100-foot rule to a clerk's office during the 45 days before an election.

The bill was introduced today, June 17th, on the heals of an announced initiative to fundamentally change how ballots are cast in Michigan. On April 1st, Let’s Vote Michigan! began work on a ballot initiative that would make Michigan a Vote-By-Mail state. The first draft was submitted to the Secretary of State’s office on April 30th and returned with suggestions for correction. A final draft is expected to be completed within a week or two.

Is it a coincidence that legislation is being introduced by Republicans that would apparently make it easier to vote absentee shortly after being alerted to an initiative that could put ballots in the mailboxes of every registered voter in Michigan without any request whatsoever for an absentee ballot? Woodchuck hair bristles on the back of my neck.

The bill that was introduced will not increase voter turnout or even make it easier to vote, it will just remove a minor barrier to absentee voting that was not really stopping anyone who wanted an absentee ballot from getting it.

Voters will still have to drive to the township clerk’s office, which is often further away than their polling location. Absentee voters would no longer be able to mail in their request for an absentee ballot. This largely negates the benefit of absentee voting.

Voters would have to show a picture ID to satisfy some dogmatic view held by the conservative right that it makes elections more valid if you show up in person and present papers. Does that sound just a bit … fascist?

This bill creates something called an assistant who is authorized by a local clerk to receive absent voter ballot applications. This assistant would be required to have something called a "Certificate of Authorized Registered Elector Returning Absent Voter Ballot Application" and would, of course, be sworn to inspect the voters papers ... sieg heil.

The most interesting part about being an assistant is that the person would not be allowed to solicit or request to return the application of the voter which means that their special status as an assistant would be a secret and it would be a crime to let others know that you could help them. This makes my woodchuck eyes cross in confusion.

Instead of making it easier to get an absentee ballot, this bill makes it more difficult. Finally my woodchuck whiskers settle down. Republicans really are the monsters that we all know they are and this bill which appears to make absentee voting easier is just another deception.

And what about that ballot initiative that would actually put ballots in the mailboxes of each every voter in the State of Michigan? We don’t need it less because of this bill … we need it more!