A woman places her vote into the ballot box on March 5, 2016 in Bowling Green, Ky.
Photo by Austin Anthony/Daily News/AP

Voting rights took a step forward in 2018 elections

It’s been a while since voting-rights advocates had reason to celebrate, but the latest election results were clearly a step in a progressive direction. The most dramatic change occurred in Michigan.

Michigan … passed a law significantly changing the way the state’s political lines are drawn for congressional and state legislative districts. The amendment will take the power to draw those lines out of the hands of state lawmakers, as the Detroit Free Press explains, and put it into the hands of an independent redistricting commission made up of four Republicans, four Democrats and five people who identify with neither party.

The state also approved a wide-ranging amendment that will allow people to register to vote on Election Day and will institute automatic voter registration. It will also allow voters to request an absentee ballot for any reason.

Nevada also adopted automatic voter registration, bringing the new total of states with AVR to 16. Yes, that’s only a third of the country, but given that automatic voter registration didn’t exist in any states as recently as three years ago, it’s a progressive reform that’s clearly catching on quickly.

But it’s not just AVR. Voters in Florida approved a measure to restore voting rights for many with prior felonies. In Kansas, voters rejected the gubernatorial candidacy of Kris Kobach, one of the nation’s voter-suppression pioneers.

In Colorado and Missouri, voters agreed to overhaul the redistricting process to end gerrymandering. (Utah may have done the same thing, but votes on the state’s Proposition 4 are still being tallied.)

In Maryland, voters agreed to allow same-day voter registration.

The news wasn’t all good – North Carolina approved a voter-ID requirement – but all things considered, Ari Berman, who covers voting rights for Mother Jones, described this year’s results as the “best election for voting rights in decades.”