When it comes to advocating no-reason absentee voting and online voter registration, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and Secretary of State Ruth Johnson can count on the support of Shelby Township Clerk Stanley Grot.
Nearly two months ago, Grot publicly endorsed these policies and reached out to the governor, secretary of state and state Rep. Pete Lund (R-District 36) to urge immediate implementation of these "common sense government reform(s)."
“I am extremely pleased that during his State of the State, Governor Rick Snyder called for in-person no-reason absentee voting,” Grot wrote in a statement. “With these issues being on his agenda I am confident that it is just a matter of time before no-reason absentee voting becomes reality.”
Having conducted three major elections last year, Grot said he witnessed first-hand the shortfalls of current absentee voting criteria.
Currently, there are six reasons listed on an application for an absent voter’s ballot. However, Grot said he does not believe these reasons are “sufficient to meet the busy schedules of the constituents we serve.”
“I personally witnessed individuals trying to figure out which of these reasons fit their needs,” he wrote in a previous letter to Patch. “Often, none of the reasons fit their criteria for requesting an absentee ballot, consequently not voting at all.”
By offering no-reason absentee voting, Grot said he believes communities like Shelby Township will be able to increase their voter participation and eliminate the anxiety voters feel when forced to wait in line or miss work.
During his State of the State address Jan. 16, Snyder announced that he and the secretary of state would urge legislation allowing Michigan citizens to register to vote online and vote absentee without a reason, such as age or disability, up to 45 days before Election Day.
“I am also in favor and support online voter registration,” Grot wrote in a statement. “With today’s technology we can greatly improve the services we provide to our citizens in more expedient and efficient manner.”
Under the proposed no-reason absentee voting plan, registered voters would still be held to the state’s voter identification requirements. No-reason absentee voters would have to go in person to their local clerk's office up to 45 days before the election and show picture identification to receive a ballot. They could then vote the ballot there or take it home and mail it in.
Voting by mail would remain available to senior citizens and those previously permitted to vote absentee.
Should the legislature approve online voter registration, citizens would still be required to input the last four digits of their social security numbers and their driver’s license numbers. This is the same verification process used at Secretary of State branch offices.
As of Sept. 4, 2012, 27 states and the District of Columbia allow any qualified voter to cast an absentee ballot without an excuse, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. According to the same source, 12 states have online voter registration, with three expected to soon pass laws permitting it.