12.21.15

Following State Efforts to Restrict Voter Access, Peters Cosponsors Legislation to Expand Opportunity for Early and Absentee Voting

WASHINGTON, DC – After the Michigan Legislature this week passed a bill eliminating straight-ticket voting and rejected efforts to expand early voting options, U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI) today announced that he will be cosponsoring legislation to expand access to early voting in federal elections and ensure voters in every state do not need an excuse to vote absentee.

“I am extremely disappointed in partisan political efforts in the Michigan Legislature that will erect barriers to the ballot box and make it harder for people to vote,” said Senator Peters. “The constitutional right to vote is the bedrock of our democracy, and we should be looking for ways to expand – not restrict - voter access. I will continue working in the U.S. Senate to ensure that every American has the equal opportunity to cast their ballot and make their voice heard.”

The legislation Peters is cosponsoring amends the Help America Vote Act of 2002 by requiring every state, at a minimum, to either provide seven consecutive days of early voting during the 10-day period before a federal election, or not require voters to give an excuse in order to cast an absentee ballot by mail. The bill also ensures that states provide early voting at a sufficient number of locations statewide so all citizens have reasonable access to the polls before Election Day.  Hardworking Americans who may find it difficult to make it to the polls on Tuesday will have the opportunity to vote on the day that works best for their schedules or vote absentee by mail. 

 

“Every American has the right to exercise their fundamental right to vote and participate in our democracy, and they should not have to face unnecessary burdens or restrictions to do so,” said Senator Peters. “For many people with busy work schedules or mobility impairments, getting to the polls on Election Day can be difficult, and I’m proud to cosponsor this important legislation that will increase opportunities to vote early or absentee so that every American has the opportunity to make their voice heard at the ballot box.”

 

Under current law, 33 states have some form of early voting, and 27 states permit voters to submit an absentee ballot without an excuse. Michigan does not have any form of early voting, and voters can request to vote absentee only if they are over 60, cannot vote in person without assistance, expect to be out of town on Election Day, cite a religious obligation, work as an election precinct inspector or are in jail awaiting trial or arraignment.

 

Senator Peters has consistently supported legislation to expand voting rights for every American.  He is a cosponsor of the Voter Registration Modernization Act, which creates uniform national standards and requirements for every state to allow online voter registration. On the fiftieth anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, a historic piece of civil rights legislation, Senator Peters also cosponsored the Voting Rights Advancement Act, which includes a number of protections to prevent voter discrimination and curtail practices known to suppress the vote. 

 

 

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