Jeff Irwin introducing legislation to allow Michigan residents to vote absentee for any reason
In a move aimed at increasing voter participation, state Rep. Jeff Irwin has announced a plan to allow any Michigan resident to vote by absentee ballot without giving a reason.
"Increasing voter turnout is crucial to maintaining a healthy democracy," Irwin, D-Ann Arbor, said in a statement. "We should do everything we can to ensure that every voter who wants to vote has that opportunity to exercise their rights and hold lawmakers accountable. This plan has strong bipartisan support and will simply make it easier for people to vote."
Irwin's office said the legislation will be read in as House Bill 4520 once the Legislature returns from break.
Currently, Michigan residents are only allowed to vote by absentee ballot if they expect to be absent from the community in which they are registered on Election Day, are physically unable to make it to the polls without assistance, cannot make it to the polls due to their religious beliefs, have been appointed as an election precinct inspector in a precinct other than their home precinct, are age 60 or older, or are incarcerated awaiting trial or arraignment.
"People shouldn't be denied their right to vote simply because they can't make it to the polls," Irwin said. "We all benefit when more people participate in our electoral process. This plan will update our laws to address the challenges that prevent people from getting to the polls."
Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for AnnArbor.com. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to AnnArbor.com's e-mail newsletters.