Thursday, June 4, 2020

Online voter registration coming to Michigan

November 20, 2018
Secretary of State Ruth Johnson, left, and Attorney General Bill Schuette, right, listen to Governor Rick Snyder's eighth and final State of the State address on Jan. 23.
Secretary of State Ruth Johnson, left, and Attorney General Bill Schuette, right, listen to Governor Rick Snyder's eighth and final State of the State address on Jan. 23. —
Photo by Andrew Roth | The State News

Michigan citizens will be able to register to vote online under new laws signed by Gov. Rick Snyder this week.

The Secretary of State will be tasked with developing an interface for state residents to fill out the voter registration application.

Applicants are only eligible to register online if they are in possession of a valid driver’s license or state ID and have not filed a change of address within 10 days prior to registering.

Secretary of State Ruth Johnson advocated for the legislation, saying her office’s systems had demonstrated an ability to handle millions of transactions accurately and securely.

“Advancements in technology are a critical part of election administration, but we must take the necessary steps to ensure that our systems are secure, safe and accurate,” Johnson told the Michigan House and Senate elections committees in March. “This proposed online voter registration application system does just that.”

Rep. Julie Calley, R-Portland, a co-sponsor of the legislation, said in a statement that registering to vote online is a “simple modern convenience” that residents of Michigan deserve. 

“In this day and age, there’s no reason registering to vote shouldn’t be just as easy as hopping online to shop or pay bills,” Calley said. 

Members of the state House of Representatives voted unanimously to pass the bill, while only one senator voted against it.

That lone legislator — Sen. Patrick Colbeck, R-Canton — could not be reached for comment. 

Because the law goes into effect 90 days after receiving the governor’s signature, it will be Secretary of State-elect Jocelyn Benson's job to develop the system. Benson and her Republican general election opponent, Mary Treder Lang, both supported the legislation.

Michigan will become the 40th state to allow online voter registration under the new law. Currently, 37 states and the District of Columbia already have systems in place to register online, while the state of Oklahoma is in the process of implementing one. 

Approximately 95 percent of Michigan’s voting age population is registered to vote, per the Associated Press.

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