The critics are wrong: Voting in Georgia, Michigan and elsewhere is easier than ever
Jocelyn Benson and Brad Raffensperger – October 31, 2022
Voters in recent years have been inundated with disinformation telling them they can’t trust their fellow citizens and neighbors who administer elections. That voting is getting harder, and powerful forces are trying to prevent them from expressing their voice. That in a nation as closely divided as ours, the only secure election is one where the candidate they voted for wins.
These harmful and divisive messages fly in the face of reality. Our nation’s elections are as accessible to eligible voters, as professionally administered and as secure as they’ve ever been.
According to a report released recently by the nonpartisan Center for Election Innovation & Research, Georgia and Michigan – where each of us serves as the secretary of state – are leaders in making voting accessible, with robust options for early in-person voting, mail voting and Election Day voting.
Strong turnout for early voting
Voting is already happening in both our states, with high turnout and few if any problems. Voters who choose to vote by mail are receiving their ballots and returning them via mail or drop box, often planning to return their ballots with plenty of time before Election Day, as they should.
In fact, more than two-thirds of states offer these options. Despite what some are hearing, voters in nearly every state will find that voting this fall is familiar and convenient, regardless of what method they choose to use.
Early voting calendar: When early and in-person absentee voting starts in each state
That is as it should be – citizens having options and voting conveniently, with maximum confidence in the integrity of the process.
And that integrity is at its peak, as it was in 2020.
Voter lists in our states and nationwide are more secure than ever. Our states and nearly every other offer convenient online voter registration, allowing voters to easily get on the rolls and keep their records up to date.
Our states have led the way in fully integrating data from our departments of motor vehicles to ensure that when someone moves, the voter lists reflect that change. And importantly, our states have joined with the majority of states – blue states like Illinois and Connecticut, and red states like South Carolina and Texas – to administer the Electronic Registration Information Center, which helps let us know when one of our voters moves to another state or passes away, and even helps identify those rare instances when a voter tries to vote twice in different states.
Georgia and Michigan have verifiable, recountable, auditable paper ballots statewide, and we’re not unusual in this regard. Ninety-five percent of voters nationwide are casting paper ballots, including all of the battleground states. And our states, like virtually all the states with paper ballots, audit them by hand to confirm that the ballot tabulators worked properly.
In Georgia, we even recounted all of the ballots in the 2020 presidential race, by hand, confirming the technology correctly counted the ballots.
Gen Z voters could swing midterms: Here’s why they should vote
All of the election processes are observed by bipartisan observers at every stage, in our states and others. Voter lists are available to candidates and campaigns at all times. Voting machines are tested in public, in front of observers, and any citizen can attend the testing.
You can volunteer to help with elections
Poll watchers, properly trained and respectful of voters and workers, are entitled to observe voting and counting. Post-election audits confirming the results are open to representatives of the campaign, the candidates and the public.
We and our colleagues in other states open every part of our process to public review. And if doubts still remain, we encourage qualified citizens to volunteer to work at the polls, where they can receive training about the entire process, and see that process from beginning to end, from the inside, while serving their neighbors and fellow citizens.
It has never been easier to vote in this country, and we’re proud that our states have led the way. It’s also true that our elections have never been more secure, with verifiable paper ballots, audits and tests of voting machines and more transparency than ever.
USA TODAY Opinion series on the Future of Conservatism: Republicans must move past Trump for sake of the party’s future – and the nation’s
This is true for voters across the country – urban and rural voters, white voters and people of color, younger and older voters, Republicans, Democrats and everyone else. Almost every voter will find that methods available for voting in the past are still there, and that their election officials are professionals who will ensure their voice is heard, regardless of whom they vote for.
We come from different states and different political parties. We have disagreements about policy. But we are in absolute agreement that the way to resolve those disagreements is at the ballot box, and through our elected representatives, in a system where all eligible voters find it convenient to vote and have the maximum confidence in the integrity of the process.
Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat, is secretary of state of Michigan. Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, is secretary of state of Georgia. Both are running for re-election on Nov. 8.