Politics

Michigan Considers Implementing Voter ID Law

| by Robert Fowler

The GOP-controlled Michigan Legislature is currently considering a bill that would impose stricter voter identification requirements. The state's lower chamber has already passed the measure.

Republican state. Rep Lisa Posthumus Lyons of Michigan has proposed legislation that would add new identification requirements for residents to cast their ballot.

Currently, Michigan voters who arrive at the polls without a voter ID can cast their ballot after signing an affidavit guaranteeing their identity under penalty of perjury. Lyons believes that this is not sufficient.

"It should be easy to vote," Lyons told The Detroit News. "It should not be easy to cheat. ... We don't know if they are who they say they are."

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Lyons' House Bill 6066 would slap new regulations on voting without an identification card. If a Michigan resident approached a polling place with ID, they would be given a provisional ballot to fill out. They would then have 10 days to present their identification with an address to the clerk's office. If they miss the deadline, their ballot would be junked.

The legislation includes an exemption for voters who cannot afford an identification card or who do not have a birth certificate. In these cases, voters could sign an affidavit at the clerk's office.

On Nov. 30, Democratic advocates testified before the Michigan Legislature, countering that the bill would place unnecessary hurdles for state voters and accused Lyons of trying to dissuade residents more likely to vote for Democrats to not even bother.

"The practical effect of this is many people will not be able to exercise their right to vote — and that's a problem," said policy strategist Merissa Kovach of the American Civil Liberty Union of Michigan.

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State director Patrick Schuh of America Votes asserted that Lyons' bill would simply result in fewer people being able to cast a ballot.

"We should be encouraging participation on Election Day, not putting up additional obstacles," Schuh said.

On Dec. 1, the Michigan House passed Lyons' bill, clearing its first obstacle to being signed into law, The Associated Press reports.

The bill has until Dec. 15 to be passed by the state Senate before the Legislature adjourns for the year.

If Lyons' bill is passed, then Michigan would join Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Virginia and Wisconsin as the states with the strictest voter identification laws in the country, according to The Hill.

Sources: AP via The Sacramento BeeThe Detroit NewsThe Hill / Photo credit: Emily Lawler/MLive

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