The secret ballot is taken for granted and uncontroversial, but same-day registration is not. Both, and others, would be enshrined in the state’s foundational document if Proposal 3 passes.


Contact: Nancy Derringer,, 734-548-0033

What we found:

  • If Proposal 3 passes, a number of voting rights will be enshrined in the Michigan Constitution. Many of them are currently dealt with in state law, but by including these rights in the state constitution, it will make it more difficult for the legislature to make changes to certain aspects of the voting franchise.
  • If Proposal 3 is rejected, many of these voting rights would be enforced in current state law. Lawmakers will continue to be responsible for safeguarding voting in Michigan through state law and would have the prerogative of implementing in provisions not currently available.
  • Major Issues to consider: The key issue raised by the proposal deals less with the specific voting rights that would be included in the state constitution, than whether these policy preferences should be in the state’s foundational document. Many of the policies contained in the proposal are ones that are essentially legislative matters that currently reside in the Michigan election law.

Proposal 3 is a citizens initiative to put voting rights, many of them already part of state law, behind the protective armor of the state constitution. It also seeks to add a few that aren’t, including same-day registration and no-reason absentee voting.

Voting and ballot access are fundamental to a thriving, well-functioning democracy. While all citizens have a responsibility to vote on Election Day, it falls to the government to ensure that all aspects of the voting process, from registration to election certification, are efficient, secure, fair and accurate.

The Michigan Constitution entrusts the state legislature with the responsibility “to regulate the time, place and manner of all elections,” except for instances where the Constitution specifically addresses aspects of the voting franchise. Proposal 3 takes the job of oversight out of the hands of Michigan policy makers and puts it in the constitution, which it is far more difficult to change than state statute.

Some of the voting rights covered by Proposal 3 have long been part of U.S., and Michigan’s, civic life – particularly the secret ballot and the right of Americans serving in the military or living abroad to receive ballots in enough time to have their votes counted. Others that have been more controversial are included as well – same-day registration, no-reason absentee voting and the often disputed straight-ticket option.

Straight-ticket, or straight-party voting, in which voters may choose an entire slate of candidates by checking one box, was eliminated as an option by the state legislature in 2015, leading to protracted legal action and a split along party lines.

“This proposal continues a trend of bypassing initiated statutes and proposing statutory material for inclusion in the state constitution,” said Eric Lupher, President of the Citizens Research Council. “Further, it might create fear that a no vote would threaten long-established voting rights, such as the secret ballot or sufficient time for absentee voting.”

The Citizens Research Council of Michigan does not take positions on ballot issues. In analyzing these ballot issues, the Citizens Research Council hopes to provide more information so that voters can make better informed decisions in formulating their votes.

The analysis of Proposal 3 joins an earlier look at Proposal 2 on our website. The Research Council will release its final report on the 2018 November ballot initiatives in the coming weeks, with an analysis of Proposal 1 (marijuana legalization). These are among our most popular communiques to the general public, with over 245,000 downloads in 2012 when voters faced six ballot measures.

View our analysis here.

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