What you're voting for: Michigan's ballot measure to add voting options to constitution

The last of the three measures Michigan voters will see on the ballot Election Day would would enshrine certain voting rights in the Michigan Constitution.

Proposal 3 would add eight voting policies to the state constitution, including automatic voter registration, straight-ticket voting, no-excuse absentee voting and same-day voter registration.

Proposal 1: Michigan's ballot measure to legalize marijuana
Proposal 2: Michigan's ballot measure to remodel redistricting

Ballot measure history

Proposal 3 is a constitutional amendment, meaning it would change the constitution of Michigan. The number of signatures supporters needed to get it on the ballot is 10 percent of the votes cast for governor in the last election -- 315,654 signatures. The initiative was approved for signature gathering by the State Board of Canvasser on Feb. 13, according to Ballotpedia. The group behind the measure, Promote the Vote, submitted 433,069 signatures on July 9 and the measure was certified for the ballot on Sept. 6. The measure's sponsors spent about $2.6 million to hire Fieldworks, LLC to collect signatures for the petition. 

What is being added to the state constitution?

Two sections of Proposal 3 would simply take a state law that already exists and put it into the Michigan Constitution:

- Military members and voters overseas get an absentee ballot at least 45 days before the election
- Election results are required to be audited

Putting something into the state constitution makes it harder to change. Then the following parts of Proposal 3 would be changes in voting policies:

No-excuse absentee voting: Right now under Michigan law, voters that want to vote absentee need one of the following reasons, voter is: 1.) unable to vote without assistance at the polls 2.) in jail awaiting trial or arraignment 3.) expected to be out of town 4.) unable to go to polls for religious reasons 5.) appointed to work as an election inspector in a precinct outside of the inspector's home precinct 6.) you're 60 years of age or older. If Proposal 3 passed, voters wouldn't need a reason to vote absentee.

Secret ballot: The Michigan Constitution currently requires legislature to pass laws for secret ballots, but this measure would grant citizens the right to use them. A secret ballot allows citizens to vote in private, marking their vote on uniform ballots distributed by the government at polling locations. According to the Citizens Research Council of Michigan, 44 states have it in their constitution, six states have it in law, and three states conduct all elections by mail.

Straight-ticket voting: Under current law, straight-ticket voting is not permitted. Proposal 3 would allow for it, letting voters mark an option in the partisan section of the ballot and vote for all candidates for all positions affiliated with that party. CRC research states that if given the option, about one-third of voters use it. They say it reduces ballot roll-off, which is when voters get tired of making selections on a long ballot and stop after casting their votes for more high-profile postilions. 

Automatic voter registration: Proposal 3 would allow automatic voter registration for anyone eligible when they conduct businesses with the state, like getting a driver's license or state ID card, unless that person doesn't want to be registered.

Register to vote in person deadline: While current law provides that you can register to vote in person until 30 days before election day, the proposal would allow a citizen to register to vote anytime, including at the polls, with proof of residency.

Register to vote by mail deadline: Similarly, someone can register to vote by mail up until 30 days before the election. Proposal 3 would cut that in half -- you'd be able to register by mail until 15 days before the election. 

What you'll see on your ballot

Proposal 18-3. A proposal to authorize automatic and Election Day voter registration, no-reason absentee voting, and straight ticket voting; and add current legal requirements for military and overseas voting and postelection audits to the Michigan Constitution.

This proposed constitutional amendment would allow a United States citizen who is qualified to vote in Michigan to:

Become automatically registered to vote when applying for, updating or renewing a driver's license or state-issued personal identification card, unless the person declines.
Simultaneously register to vote with proof of residency and obtain a ballot during the 2-week period prior to an election, up to and including Election Day.
Obtain an absent voter ballot without providing a reason.
Cast a straight-ticket vote for all candidates of a particular political party when voting in a partisan general election.
Should this proposal be adopted?

[ ] YES

[ ] NO



The group leading the campaign behind Proposal 3 is called Promote the Vote, which was launched by the ACLU of Michigan, the League of Women Voters of Michigan and the Michigan State Conference of the NAACP.

According to Ballotpedia, organizations that support the measure include the Detroit Regional Chamber, Urban League of West Michigan, American Jewish Committee, the Progressive Women's Alliance of West Michigan, Our Revolution, the Michigan chapter of the National Council of Jewish Women, the Michigan Chapter of the Sierra Club and the Michigan State Employee Retirees Association. Officials who have expressed support include Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, Grand Rapids Mayor Rosalynn Bliss, Traverse City Mayor Jim Carruthers.

Support for the ballot measure raised $4.91 million and spent 4.53 million, with the largest contribution coming from the ACLU at $2.49 million.


The group formed to oppose Proposal 3 is called Protect My Vote. 

According to Ballotpedia, opposition to Proposal 3 raised about $270,000 and spent about $252,000, with the largest contribution from the Michigan Freedom Fund at $140,000.

Michigan Secretary of State candidate Mary Treder Lang told WDET she opposes the proposal because "it's putting a burden on the clerks the day of elections."