Bills to implement Proposal 2 of 2022 honors intent of voters, paves way for historic improvements to elections and voting access
LANSING, Mich. (June 14, 2023) — Today, the Michigan Senate voted to pass the most comprehensive and expansive voting improvements in a generation, Senate Bills 367–374 to implement the election reforms that voters overwhelmingly passed in Proposal 2 of 2022.
“Today, we are making history,” said Sen. Jeremy Moss (D-Southfield), the lead sponsor of the bill package and Chair of the Senate Elections and Ethics Committee. “These bills are, by extension, the will of more than 60 percent of Michigan voters — approximately 2.5 million Michiganders — in 2022. They dramatically improve access to voting, and we will keep building on this effort in the weeks and months ahead.
“The end product we passed today puts more power and flexibility into the hands of Michigan voters — a worthy goal and a stark contrast to those who have wrongly pushed conspiracy theories and misinformation, sought to discredit our elections, and suppress voting.”
Specifically, these bills would:
Implement nine consecutive days of early voting for statewide elections starting at least on the second Saturday before the election and ending the Sunday before the election;
Establish sentencing guidelines for disclosure of early voting election results;
Create a single application for voters to automatically receive absent voter ballots for all future elections;
Provide for prepaid return postage on certain election documents and signature matching/curing requirements for absent voter ballot documents;
Expand permissible options for photo identity used in voting-related purposes;
Require each municipality in Michigan to have at least one accessible absent voter ballot drop box and one for every 15,000 registered voters in the municipality; and
Increase the number of active registered voters in a single election precinct from 2,999 to 5,000 active registered voters.
“These bills have been thoughtfully crafted and thoroughly reviewed with local and county clerks, state election experts, and state and local officials from precincts of all sizes, both rural and urban,” said Senate Majority Leader Winnie Brinks (D-Grand Rapids). “This legislation will make voting easier and our elections more accessible for everyone, and by doing so, we are ensuring our outcomes are more representative of our entire state.”
Charged with crafting the Proposal 2 implementation legislation and ushering it through his Senate Elections and Ethics Committee, Sen. Moss convened a workgroup of key stakeholders earlier this year to collaborate on the bills. The workgroup — which included Rep. Penelope Tsernoglou (D-East Lansing), Chair of the House Elections Committee; policy experts from the Secretary of State’s Office; representatives from Promote the Vote (which developed Proposal 2); and clerks representing their respective communities and the Michigan Association of County Clerks and the Michigan Association of Municipal Clerks — has been meeting weekly for months to work through any potential concerns and ensure Prop 2 legislation is legally and logistically sound.
“I am grateful for the partnership of lawmakers on both sides of the aisle who worked with my office and clerks across the state to draft this bipartisan legislation,” said Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson. “As we prepare for next year’s statewide elections, I stand ready to work with our clerks to implement the expanded constitutional protections for every Michigan voter.”
Timing is another important aspect of this legislation. The legislative workgroup worked to develop an implementation and timeline plan that includes having several clerks and municipalities around the state piloting the election reforms prior to their full, statewide implementation. This plan will help identify any potential unforeseen issues that arise as these changes move from policy to practice. This will ensure elections run as smoothly as possible when these improvements are rolled out in every precinct around the state, starting with the 2024 Presidential Primary Election.
“I am excited to be on the ground floor of this new era of voting access in Michigan and I appreciate Sen. Moss’s work to include clerks throughout this process,” said Chris Swope, Lansing City Clerk. “For 17 years, I have been fighting to ensure that every voter has a voice, and these important policy changes will make that easier than ever.”
In addition to the legislation directly borne out of Proposal 2, Sen. Erika Geiss (D-Taylor) and Sen. Moss have introduced several bills addressing needs related to these election reforms:
Senate Bill 385 would allow for precinct election inspector applications to be submitted electronically, and it also modifies certain qualifications for precinct election inspectors.
Senate Bill 387 would allow for the processing and tabulation of absent voter ballots during the early voting period, and also allow an absent voter to tabulate the absent voter’s ballot in person at a polling place or early voting site.
Senate Bill 386 would create sentencing guidelines for election law violations related to SB 387.
“These issues came directly from clerks and election workers to streamline and modernize their duties while implementing these other reforms, and to uphold the highest levels of election access and integrity,” Sen. Moss said.
The bills now head to the House for further action.