ACLU of Michigan Calls on All City and Township Clerks Across the State to Follow Absentee Voting Rights Laws

Affiliate: ACLU of Michigan
September 17, 2020 11:45 am

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DETROIT – Today, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Michigan sent a letter to over 1,500 municipal clerks across the state urging them to follow voting rights laws, including the constitutional amendment that was overwhelmingly passed in 2018 allowing voters to cast their absentee ballot in person or by mail during the 40 days before an election. The 40-day period for the general election begins on September 24. The letter also reminds all clerks that state law requires them to issue absentee ballots to voters who apply for one by mail or online within 24 hours of receiving the application.

“We can’t emphasize enough how critical it is that every city and township clerk comply with these legal requirements so that the constitutional rights of all voters in Michigan are protected,” said Sharon Dolente, ACLU of Michigan Voting Rights Strategist. “We stand ready to offer information and guidance to election clerks so that they can comply with their legal obligations to ensure the right to vote is honored. Although we hope that all election clerks will carry out their legal duties, we also stand ready to enforce the rights of Michigan voters.”

Today’s letter, which outlines in detail the legal obligations of all municipal clerks, are summarized below:

Applications for Absentee Ballots Must Be Processed Immediately

  • Michigan law requires, at a minimum, that election clerks issue absentee voter ballots to voters no later than September 24 in response to any absentee ballot applications that have already been submitted by that date; and within 24 hours of receipt of any absentee ballot application received on September 24 or later.

Clerk Offices Must Be Open for In-Person Absentee Voting

  • The 2018 constitutional amendment also requires election clerks to allow all registered voters to apply for, receive, and return an absentee ballot at an in-person location during regular business hours starting on September 24, 2020. Clerks’ offices must also be open for in-person absentee voting for at least 8 hours on the weekend prior to the November election.

Photo ID Is Not Required for Registration or Voting

  • Voting in person and registering to vote in person do not require photo identification. If a registered voter cannot provide identification upon request, the clerk must offer the voter the option to complete an affidavit indicating that the voter is not in possession of photo identification.
  • Similarly, if an individual cannot provide photo identification upon request when registering to vote in person, the clerk must offer the individual the option to complete an affidavit indicating that the individual is not in possession of photo identification.

Registering to Vote In Person Requires Proof of Residency Only On or After October 20, 2020

  • Prior to October 20, 2020, an individual does not need to provide proof of residency when registering to vote in person at a clerk’s office or satellite office.
  • Beginning on October 20, 2020, voters must provide proof of residency in order to register to vote and be eligible to vote in the election on November 3. Proof of residency may include but is not limited to photo identification. Voters may also provide proof of residency in the form of a current utility bill, bank statement, paycheck or government check or other government documentation.

Today’s letter and statement are available at:

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