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Posted on Tue, Apr 5, 2011 : 2:55 p.m.

Jeff Irwin introducing legislation to allow Michigan residents to vote absentee for any reason

By Ryan J. Stanton

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.


Jeff Irwin

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 Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's e-mail newsletters.



Wed, Apr 6, 2011 : 11:37 p.m.

Corporate leaders and their tea-drinking lackeys will, of course, feel inclined to oppose Jeff Irwin's proposal to expand the option of absentee voting. Reduced voter participation is an important component in maintaining the Republican portion of the vote count. The higher the turnout, the relatively higher the vote percentage for the Democrats (or for third parties).

Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball

Wed, Apr 6, 2011 : 9:04 p.m.

In other news . . . - the unemployment rate in Michigan basically held steady, still above 10% - still one of the highest in the Nation. - Statewide, all counties increased their Food Assistance caseloads by at least 5 percent; some others by more than 20%. - Foreclosures and bankruptcies continue unabated. - The lose of population means Michigan will lose yet more congressional seats. - Michigan incomes are down by nearly $10,000 per household. - Freep reports 36% of Michigan homeowners are underwater on their mortgage. Looks like Dems have their priorities right where they have stuck their heads.


Wed, Apr 6, 2011 : 5:54 p.m.

I suppose Irwin could try to make the case that he's making it "legal" to vote absentee for any reason at all. But in my experience the clerk's office doesn't care one whit anyhow. They don't ask why or demand proof. If you say you wanna ballot and show ID they'll arrange to mail it to you. Like most of Irwin's proposed bills it's a solution in search of a problem.


Wed, Apr 6, 2011 : 2:28 p.m.

Agreed that this is no the most important issue. However it is certainly NOT an invitation to multiple voting. Anyone who sees this side has no idea what is involved in absentee voting. Having served as an election official for nearly 30 years, at least 12 of them as chair of absentee count boards, this does NOT affect accuracy.No cause absentee voting has been in place in other states for many years. The time has come. Cheers Jeff!


Wed, Apr 6, 2011 : 1:31 p.m.

Very glad to see this. It's about time. And to all the folks who trot out that tired old chestnut "Voter fraud is sure to follow if you make voting easier" I say, give that a rest. There is no proof of this and the fact that you fear having working people voting says something interesting about you.

Chase Ingersoll

Wed, Apr 6, 2011 : 1:26 p.m.

With fewer reporters at, Ryan's quota has probably been raised. Jeff, who days before the election could not be persuaded that the House would fall to the Republicans, is in a box where this is all he can do. And that is the fault of the voters who elected him. Those voters views are so extreme that the views are irrelevant outside of 48104 and 48109.

Dog Guy

Wed, Apr 6, 2011 : 11:46 a.m.

Every week publishes an Irwin for President brochure with another zeitgeister bill-with-not-a chance-in-hell-of-passing to attract attention to himself and titillate our Ann Arbor fantasies. Political hackery should pay advertising rates regardless of party. Or this weekly soapbox could be moved to "Entertainment" .


Wed, Apr 6, 2011 : 1:16 a.m.



Wed, Apr 6, 2011 : 12:27 a.m.

The last time I voted in person was 1998. You can give any reason you want. The clerk doesn't care. It's way easier than standing in line or missing an election because of unexpected circumstances too. The only downside for me is the rare last minute change of heart about a ballot proposal. And as for the candidates? Sheesh. The Democrats win everything around here anyhow so what's the diff?


Wed, Apr 6, 2011 : 12:17 a.m.

This is stupid! Any reason? Now we want to adopt the Chicago voting standards where the dead can vote.

David Briegel

Wed, Apr 6, 2011 : 2:33 p.m.

That is a completely inaccurate statement.


Tue, Apr 5, 2011 : 11:17 p.m.

Jeff "Blago" Irwin is way off base on this. The opportunity for fraud increases if AV is expanded. We all know about DEMS and election fraud.

David Briegel

Wed, Apr 6, 2011 : 2:03 a.m.

You know nothing of what you speak because it is a FAUX Snooze myth! Even your Rep Atty Gen and Secy of State can find none! Just more silliness!


Tue, Apr 5, 2011 : 11:02 p.m.

Absentee ballots should be kept to an absolute minimum to reduce the chances of voter fraud.

David Briegel

Wed, Apr 6, 2011 : 2:01 a.m.

How much absentee voter fraud has been uncovered? Virtually NONE. Unless you listen to FAUX and their histerical gals.


Tue, Apr 5, 2011 : 9:35 p.m.

This is great it'll be so much easier to vote muliple times. Lookout 2012 theirs about 200 new voters in town.


Wed, Apr 6, 2011 : 1:27 p.m.

Ah, another Republican heard from. As soon as anything comes up making it easier for people who work to vote, the old 'voter fraud will be rampant' argument gets trotted out.


Tue, Apr 5, 2011 : 8:47 p.m.

Now if we could only have candidates worth voting for!

David Briegel

Tue, Apr 5, 2011 : 7:46 p.m.

gyre, Jeff and the Dems are in the minority. They control nothing! The TeaPublicans are in charge of the whole kit and kaboodle. And it is they who always find reasons and obstacles to prevent citizens from being registered or even voting. Ease of voting is a worthwhile change to our current system in light of the busy schedules of most citizens. And since his bill has bipartisan support, it shows he has the ability to work well with others. A trait most lacking in many! I want Jeff to continue his good work. Voting should be as easy as paying a bill or responding to a survey.


Tue, Apr 5, 2011 : 9:06 p.m.

As I said before, this is a good idea but I don't see Jeff spending any time trying to resolve the budget and economy problems that are currently plaguing Michigan. Maybe he should focus on what is really important right now. No need to worry if the plants have been watered if the house is on fire.


Tue, Apr 5, 2011 : 7:30 p.m.

Although this change makes some sense, Jeff Irwin is consistently focusing his time as a State Representave addressing social issues instead of attending to the real problem at hand; the budget and our economy. Please Jeff, focus on the important stuff. When we have a healthy economy, everyone will be happy to hug a tree, save a whale, or worry about what ever issue is currently your top focus.