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AARP Michigan releases statement on election reform bills

Paula Cunningham 2019.JPEG
Paula D. Cunningham, AARP Michigan State Director

From Paula D. Cunningham, AARP Michigan State Director:

AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization with approximately 1.3 million members in Michigan. AARP advocates on policy issues that matter the most to Michigan residents age 50 and over and their families, including the right to vote. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or contribute to political campaigns or candidates.

AARP believes the right to vote is a fundamental human right. Free and fair elections are essential to democracy. AARP Michigan believes any election reform legislation should protect and enhance access to voting and ensure safety for voters 50 and older and others who participate in the process. Voters 50 and up have comprised 57.6 percent to 60 percent of the overall vote in Michigan in the last three elections, and they made up a substantial portion of the record-smashing 57 percent of voters who cast absentee ballots in the 2020 election.

In general, election reform bills should be measured against these five principles:

•             We believe all Americans should be able to exercise their right to vote freely, easily, and safely - any change to how elections are conducted should serve to maximize voter participation.

•             Policymakers should maximize voter registration, including through automatic voter registration systems.

•             Policymakers should prohibit ID requirements that discourage or prevent citizens from voting.

•             Policymakers should encourage and promote maximum participation in the electoral process—that they should expand the range of voting options.

•             Qualified voters should not be excluded from voting because of a medical diagnosis, disability status, or their type of residence, such as whether a voter resides in a long-term care facility.

Various analyses of the legislation currently being considered in the Michigan Senate indicate it would limit voter access to absentee ballot drop boxes, create new hurdles for voters, set potentially difficult deadlines for vote counting, and ramp up voter photo ID requirements possibly disenfranchising some voters. These measures conflict with AARP election reform principles. All Americans should be able to exercise their right to vote freely, easily, and safely.

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