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Opinion | Give Michigan military, families overseas electronic voting right

The freedom to vote is the cornerstone of our democracy. But that freedom does not come without a cost, as thousands of military service members go to work everyday to protect us, our country and our sacred constitutional right to vote. 

Christine Morse headshot
Christine Morse, a Democrat, represents Kalamazoo County in the 40th district of the Michigan House of Representatives.

It should be common sense then that we provide a secure, reliable way for our service members and their families to cast their ballot and ensure it is counted in our elections. That’s why the state legislature must pass H.B. 4210, which will allow military members and their families to return their ballots electronically.

Simply put, this bill ensures no military member or their family members stationed overseas who are sacrificing for their country have to worry about their ballot being returned on time and counted.

This issue is personal to me. I am a proud former military spouse who has been stationed overseas with my family. I know first hand just how hard it can be to receive and return an absentee ballot in a short window of time. When I was stationed overseas with my husband, who served in the Navy, my ballot for the 2008 general election was not returned on time and therefore did not count. 

It’s also personal to me as a woman. Over 90 percent of military spouses are women, and many of them do not have a trusted, reliable way to ensure their ballot is returned on time to be counted. At a time when issues like reproductive rights and pay equity are on the line in every election, we should be supporting new ways to ensure the ballots of our military spouses, the vast majority of whom are women, are received and counted.

Allowing military service members and their family members to electronically return their ballots is not a new concept. In fact, thirty one states and Washington, DC already allow some form of electronic ballot return.

In the last few years, Michigan has taken big steps in expanding the freedom to vote and increasing confidence in our elections. By passing H.B. 4210, we can ensure that our service members and their families stationed overseas are included in the list of victories for voting rights in Michigan.

At the end of the day, the strength of our freedom to vote should not be determined by where we live, especially when we are serving our country overseas. Let’s make sure that in the 2024 election every military service member and their spouse can have convenience and confidence to return their ballot through a fast and secure electronic portal so their vote can be counted and their voice can be heard.

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Bridge welcomes guest columns from a diverse range of people on issues relating to Michigan and its future. The views and assertions of these writers do not necessarily reflect those of Bridge or The Center for Michigan. Bridge does not endorse any individual guest commentary submission. If you are interested in submitting a guest commentary, please contact David Zeman. Click here for details and submission guidelines.

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