Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Tell Governor Snyder to Veto Bills that Harm Voting Rights

From the League of Women Voters

Bills that create barriers to voting passed the Michigan Legislature last week and await the Governor's action.  The measures – SB 751, SB 754, SB 803, and HB 5061 – expand photo identification requirements for voters, impose certification and Secretary of State (SOS) approved training on third-party voter registration agencies, and require affirmation of citizenship on ballot applications.
These new requirements are completely unnecessary and will create barriers to voting.  The bills have been promoted as improvements to election integrity.  However, Michigan's election system is sound and there is no evidence of problems – particularly voter fraud and registration fraud – that these measures are intended to address.
Expanded photo ID requirements will make it more difficult for some people to vote.  An estimated 10 percent of voting-age Americans lacks the required type of ID.  This law hits elderly, minority, low-income, and youth voters hardest since they are more likely to lack photo ID and the time and expense of obtaining it can be prohibitive.  Michigan already has voter identification methods that work very well and meet federal standards.
Mandatory, SOS-approved training is a roadbloack for civic organizations that want to help citizens join the voting rolls.  Trained League volunteers provide an opportunity for people to register at a convenient location, such as their school, library or community center.  Additional training by the SOS office is unnecessary.
The right to vote, along with full and fair representation, is the most basic of political rights.  Measures that restrict the exercise of that right should be carefully evaluated for their benefit to election integrity.  These bills fail that test.

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