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MDP unveils smartphone app to let you apply for an absentee ballot

by: Eric B.

Thu Jul 17, 2014 at 16:03:28 PM EDT

This seems really smart.

Detroit will become the first city in Michigan to allow residents to apply for absentee ballots by touch-screen-enabled phones, officials announced Wednesday.

Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey and Michigan Democratic Party Chair Lon Johnson announced the initiative at the city’s elections headquarters, saying the effort is to reach out to people ages 18-35 who might otherwise not get involved in the electoral process.

People in that age group “are the least engaged, yet they have cell phones attached to their hips,” Winfrey said. “So why not allow them to use their cell phones to apply to vote” by absentee ballot?

Here's the website.

Like I said, this seems like a really smart idea and obviously rolling it out in Detroit is a way to boost voter participation by the Democratic base.

Eric B. :: MDP unveils smartphone app to let you apply for an absentee ballot
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Ummm. What about Michigan election law?
It's really a great idea to talk about involving people aged 18-35 in the political system by getting them to apply for an absentee ballot.  But exactly how will they do it?

Claim that they're actually 60 years old?  That they intend to leave town for election day?  That they belong to a religion which holds Tuesdays sacred?  They they're in jail awaiting sentencing?

Michigan law may not be fair, or sensible, but it's still the law.  MICHIGAN DOES NOT PERMIT NO-REASON ABSENTEE VOTING.  NOR DO WE HAVE A SYSTEM OF EARLY VOTING.  Hello?

The Dems keep mailing hundreds of thousands of AV applications to people who aren't eligible to use them.  As a result, virtually none of those applications are actually filled out or returned.

Early voting is a national project of the DNC, and they can't be bothered by details that a given state doesn't permit it.

There are lots of very good targets for AV ballots, but working those targets would require individual attention, accurate record keeping, and repeated contacts.  So none of those efforts are undertaken.  Instead we see only easy-but-useless efforts aimed at large but inappropriate audiences.

"I expect to be absent from the community in which I am registered for the entire time the polls are open on election day." Two things here: "Expect" and "Community." First, how do you define "community"? City, precinct, ward, neighborhood, street? That word has some broad definitions and interpretations. As for ""expect", you can expect to be out of your community (again, however that's defined). But if those plans fall through, then you might stay home. If I'fe got a business trip to LA planned for primary day, then the trip gets cancelled, what am I supposed to do, besides stay home? What I'm saying is, if someone marks this, then how do Republicans prove that they didn't expect to be out of their community?

"I am physically unable to attend the polls without the assistance of another." Obviously if you're physically impaired you fall under this. But what if a person can walk, but not very far? And on top of that, they've got no car or public transit. You could say they're "physically unable" to go to a polling place without assistance.

"I cannot attend the polls because of the tenets of my religion." This can also be interpreted in all different ways - if I'm Presbyterian but my polling place is a Methodist chirch, then I could argue that I fall under this. Now I'd have no problem voting at a Methodist or Baptist church, or even a synagogue or mosque. But some may feel unconfortable doing so, and they can use this as an option - and again, how do Republicans get me convicted of a crime if I do that?

"I have been appointed an election precinct inspector in a precinct other than the precinct where I reside." Clear cut.

"I am 60 years of age or older." Clear cut, but even if someone isn't 60, it may help them to know that when they get that age they can have this as an option (and they probably know people who are 60).

"I cannot attend the polls because I am confined to jail awaiting arraignment or trial." Clear cut, but again, this might be a matter of awareness. If someone's been in jail, they may think they can't vote anymore. If they learn that people in jail can vote, then they might realize, "hey, I can vote after all." Dems have probably lost a few elections because people think they can't vote when they've been to prison.

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