GRAND RAPIDS, Mich - We're about to have a gubernatorial election in the state of Michigan. But do many people care enough to go out and vote?
The truth is many people won't go vote. History tells us only about four to maybe five out of ten people have voted in the state's gubernatorial election since 1962.
Now, a nationwide report on voter turnout is criticizing Michigan's leaders for not making enough changes to entice voters to come to the polls on a regular basis.
The report from the Center for American Progress found that Michigan could boost voter turnout by more than 235,000 "if the state adopted new policies to reduce barriers and make voting more convenient".
"92 million eligible Americans did not vote in 2016 and 143 million didn't vote in 2014," Center for American Progress Voting Rights Manager Danielle Root said. "That is a problem and that includes Democrats, Republicans, Independents and everybody in-between. We all need to come together to fix that."
Root says Michigan lawmakers haven't adopted enough policies to make it more voter-friendly, like early voting, no-reason absentee voting and online voter registration.
"Even adopting 1 or 2 of these reforms would mean a significant difference," Root said.
The good news is Michigan is about to tackle one or two of the reforms that are listed by the organization. Michigan lawmakers are considering allowing people to register to vote online with a valid id card.
Another reform that's less likely to be passed by the end of the year is no-reason absentee voting.
Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson said she does support those reforms but isn't in favor of everything this group wants to do. Secretary Johnson doesn't support same-day voter registration because she thinks it doesn't give local clerks enough time to verify the completeness of a registration application.
Johnson defends what she's done in office to improve voter turnout.
"In 2016, 97 percent of the voting-age population was registered with a record total of 7.5 million," Johnson's spokesman Fred Woodhams wrote in an e-mail. "The Secretary of State’s Office is a national leader in registering people to vote at motor-vehicle offices, and encourages people to register by sending reminders to people turning 18 years old, attending naturalization events and having the Mobile Office tour of public colleges and universities ahead of the voter registration deadline for major elections, among other efforts."
Root says if people were allowed to register on the day of the election, it would bump up participation in this upcoming gubernatorial race by 5 points. Some in the state say they think that's a bit of a stretch.
As much as the Center for American Progress wants to see changes to get people to vote, one change that group doesn't want to see is states start having online voting and people voting from home. Root believes there is still just too much danger in that at the moment to be able to secure the results of an election.
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