Automatic voter registration now a reality in Michigan  

    Susan J. Demas

    Automatic voter registration has launched in Michigan. Online voter registration will be available after November 2019 elections, according to a release from Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson.

    Jocelyn Benson

    Automatic voter registration requires Secretary of State branches to automatically register Michigan citizens to vote when they update or apply to get a driver licenses. Exceptions can occur when a person is ineligible or chooses to opt out of automatic registration. Applications will have an “opt-out” box, meaning applicants should check the box if they don’t want to be registered to vote. 

    Automatic voter registration was part of Proposal 3, a measure that added eight voting policies to the Michigan Constitution in November 2018. It passed with 66.9% of voters in favor of it.

    Michigan on Sept. 9 began implementation of automatic voter registration in person and online, with the Department of State set to add automatic registration options for mail transactions in the upcoming months.

    The department also plans to launch an online registration portal after November 2019. 

    Benson wants more voting access for military members

    “Making voter registration automatic for eligible citizens means more Michigan residents will have access to participating in our democracy,” Benson said in a press release. “I look forward to this both strengthening our democracy and ultimately helping transactions move more quickly in branch offices by eliminating extra paperwork.”

     An average of 4,653 automatic voter registration transactions occurred each business day during the first two weeks of September 2019, according to department data. In September 2017, that number was lower — about 4,002 per business day. This data is preliminary and the department said it will release additional reports after extensive analysis of the options is completed. 

    Michigan is the latest to join 17 other states and the District of Columbia in modernizing the voter registration process. 

    C.J. Moore
    C.J. Moore covers the environment and the Capitol. She previously worked at NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland as a public affairs staff science writer. She also previously covered crop sustainability and coal pollution issues for Great Lakes Echo. In addition, she served as editor in chief at The State News and covered its academics and research beat. She is a journalism graduate student at Michigan State University.

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