In a hugely positive development for voting rights in Michigan, voters approved Proposal 2, which includes several critical measures to make voting easier and elections more secure. The amendment includes automatic voter registration and same-day voter registration, removes the requirement of an excuse to vote absentee, protects the state’s straight-ticket voting option, and allows for elections to be routinely audited to ensure accuracy.
Michigan is currently one of the worst states when it comes to making voting as accessible as possible. In particular, it's one of just 13 states that has no early voting at all and also requires an excuse to vote absentee. But Republican lawmakers fought to preserve the status quo, which exempts anyone age 60 or older from the excuse requirement—a transparent way to make it easier for that particular GOP-leaning demographic to cast a ballot.
Similarly, the GOP has tried multiple times to do away with straight-ticket voting because black voters use it more than whites. Eliminating it could exacerbate longer voting lines on Election Day (it’s much quicker to vote a straight ticket than to fill out every race on a ballot) in disproportionately Democratic-leaning precincts—and thus dissuade people from voting. A federal court let the GOP's repeal go into effect for 2018, but this amendment's approval will insulate the option from federal review.
Any eligible voter who does business with the secretary of state's office concerning their driver's license or state ID will now be automatically registered to vote unless they opt out, likely bringing hundreds of thousands of new voters into the electorate. Consequently, Michigan is poised to go from one of the worst states for voting access to one of the best.