LANSING — The Michigan Senate has passed bipartisan legislation introduced by Sen. Paul Wojno (D-Warren) that would allow active-duty military members stationed overseas to return absentee ballots to their township or city clerk electronically.
The legislation passed includes Senate Bill 297, sponsored by Sen. Wojno, and Senate Bill 117. Together, the bills would permit electronic ballot returns for military voters on active duty outside of the U.S. who don’t expect to return to their primary residence before the election and allow them to sign their absentee ballot with a U.S. Department of Defense-verified electronic signature.
“Voting is one of the most fundamental rights an American citizen has, and we shouldn’t be complicating it for our men and women serving abroad,” Sen. Wojno said. “Americans want soldiers to be able to vote, and this legislation would make it easier for them to do so and ensure their ballot is counted.”
In 2009, the federal Military and Overseas Voters Empowerment Act (MOVE) required states to provide blank absentee ballots to active members of the military 45 days before an election in at least one electronic format such as email, fax or via an online delivery system. However, it doesn’t require states to accept absentee ballots electronically.
Michigan is one of 19 states that currently do not allow electronic transmission of absentee ballots. Voters must still return voted ballots via postal mail and while there have been efforts made to expedite the movement of voting materials through the postal system, time and distance create challenges, particularly in areas where mail service is minimal, intermittent or nonexistent.
“If we can leverage technology to make voting easier and give our active-duty military members one less thing to worry about, then we should do it,” Sen. Wojno said. “If we can afford people the ability to pay their utility bills and do their banking online, we should be able to provide those who risk their lives for our liberties the option to receive, and submit, their ballot online.”
Sign up to be the first to know what I'm doing to build a thriving community and fight for you.
First Name is required
Last Name is required
Email Address is required
Zip Code is required
We take your privacy seriously.