Michigan officials seek strategy to encourage voter turnout

Capital News Service
Lansing — With voter turnout in Michigan steadily declining, some lawmakers and state officials are looking for ways to make voting easier. In the 2014 midterm election, 41.6 percent of Michigan’s voting-age population turned out, according to the Michigan Secretary of State website. That’s a drop from 50.7 percent in the midterm election of 2006 and 42.9 percent in 2010. To help encourage voting, Sen. Steven Bieda, D-Warren, recently introduced an amendment to the Michigan Election Law to allow for no-reason absentee voting. That means voters would no longer need an excuse to get an absentee ballot.

Officials improve access for voters with disabilities

Capital News Service
LANSING – Election officials say they are striving to make polling places more accessible to voters with disabilities. Meanwhile, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) estimated that nationally, 45 percent of polling places have impediments, such as lack of ramps. Justin Roebuck, elections coordinator at the Ottawa County Clerk’s office, said, “It’s very important that we are completely accommodating our voters and have equal opportunity.”
Roebuck said polling places in his county provide lowered tables and ramps for wheelchairs. “There is nothing in law that would restrict anyone who is disabled from voting,” Roebuck said, “We never make a judgment on who is capable of making voting choices.”
Roebuck said the Help America Vote Act of 2002 improved polling places’ standards by requiring better physical access and technology to disabled voters. His office provides devices to assist voters with impaired vision and hearing that reads text through headphones or allows them to use a touch-screen or buttons to make selections in secret.