March 28, 2020

DETROIT – The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Michigan applauds Governor Gretchen Whitmer for issuing an executive order today to expand voting rights for the May 5 election while protecting the public's health during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Governor is encouraging Michiganders to vote from home using an absentee ballot by allowing the Department of State to assist local jurisdictions in mailing absentee ballot applications to every registered voter, and to provide postage pre-paid return envelopes with absentee ballots. The Governor’s order also urges Michiganders who want to register to vote for the May 5 election to do so as soon as possible, and encourages voters to register online or by mail rather than in person.

Sharon Dolente, ACLU of Michigan voting rights strategist, attorney, and member of Michigan’s Election Modernization Advisory Committee, has this reaction:

“Voters should not have to choose between their health and exercising their right to vote.  The Governor’s order is vital in accommodating voters so that they don’t have to make this choice during the May elections. We look forward to working with the SOS and local clerks on other ways to ensure every eligible voter can vote, and that their vote will count, as our democracy depends on it.” 

The ACLU of Michigan also encourages state and local officials to take additional steps to increase voter accessibility to the ballot:

  • Increase the number of drop boxes and drive-through options for voters to submit their absentee ballot.  Drop boxes will avoid in-person contact and provide a method for voters to submit absentee ballots in the waning days before an election. 
     
  • Maintain an adequate number of locations for voters to register and vote in person as some people are unable to vote by mail, including people with a disability, people who have limited English proficiency, and others.
  • Follow other vote by mail states that proactively mail every registered voter a ballot, which reduces the time, expense and burden on voters and election officials. 
  • Extend the deadline to ensure absentee ballots postmarked by Election Day are counted.
  • Invest in educating the public on new voting options, and provide resources, training, and support for election officials adjusting to these changes.

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