Duly Noted

Peters co-sponsors bill on expansion of early and absentee voting

After the Michigan Legislature last week passed a bill eliminating straight-ticket voting and rejected efforts to expand early voting options, U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI) announced that he will be co-sponsoring congressional legislation to expand access to early voting in federal elections and ensure voters in every state do not need an excuse to vote absentee.

“I am extremely disappointed in partisan political efforts in the Michigan Legislature that will erect barriers to the ballot box and make it harder for people to vote,” said Senator Peters. “The constitutional right to vote is the bedrock of our democracy, and we should be looking for ways to expand – not restrict - voter access. I will continue working in the U.S. Senate to ensure that every American has the equal opportunity to cast their ballot and make their voice heard.”

The legislation Peters is co-sponsoring amends the Help America Vote Act of 2002 by requiring every state, at a minimum, to either provide seven consecutive days of early voting during the 10-day period before a federal election, or not require voters to give an excuse in order to cast an absentee ballot by mail. The bill also ensures that states provide early voting at a sufficient number of locations statewide so all citizens have reasonable access to the polls before Election Day.  Hardworking Americans who may find it difficult to make it to the polls on Tuesday will have the opportunity to vote on the day that works best for their schedules or vote absentee by mail.

“Every American has the right to exercise their fundamental right to vote and participate in our democracy, and they should not have to face unnecessary burdens or restrictions to do so,” said Senator Peters. “For many people with busy work schedules or mobility impairments, getting to the polls on Election Day can be difficult, and I’m proud to co-sponsor this important legislation that will increase opportunities to vote early or absentee so that every American has the opportunity to make their voice heard at the ballot box.”

Currently, 33 states have some form of early voting, and 27 states permit voters to submit an absentee ballot without an excuse. Michigan has no form of early voting, and voters can request to vote absentee only if they are over 60, cannot vote in person without assistance, expect to be out of town on Election Day, cite a religious obligation, work as an election precinct inspector or are in jail awaiting trial or arraignment.
Sen. Peters has consistently supported legislation to expand voting rights for every American. He is a co-sponsor of the Voter Registration Modernization Act, which creates uniform standards and requirements for every state to allow online voter registration. On the fiftieth anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Sen. Peters also co-sponsored the Voting Rights Advancement Act, which has a number of protections to curtail practices known to suppress the vote.


Van Dyk joins Miller Johnson’s Real Estate Group, Kalamazoo office

 Miller Johnson is pleased to welcomed Matthew B. Van Dyk at the end of December as a Member in the Kalamazoo office.

Van Dyk has practiced real estate law since 2004.  His clients range from individuals to institutions.  Van Dyk has significant experience in development, condominiums, zoning and entitlement, acquisitions, leasing, affordable housing, and tax incentive projects.  His development and finance experience covers commercial and residential and ranges from condominiums to multi-use projects.

Van Dyk earned his J.D. from Wayne State University Law School in 2004 and a B.A. from Calvin College in 2000.  Prior to joining Miller Johnson, he was with law firms in Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo.