Press Statement: Michigan Senate Prepares to Pass Most Extreme Voter Restrictions in the United States

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

News from Promote the Vote

 

June 29, 2021

 

Contact: Lynna Kaucheck, (586) 556-8805, lynna@progressmichigan.org

 

Michigan Senate Prepares to Pass Most Extreme Voter Restrictions in the United States

 

MICHIGAN – Last Wednesday, the Michigan House of Representatives passed a package of bills imposing the most extreme voter restrictions in the United States. The bills would eliminate options utilized by registered voters in almost every county in the state, disenfranchising tens of thousands of Michigan citizens. In response, Sharon Dolente, senior advisor with Promote the Vote, issued the following statement:

“If enacted, these bills would be the most radical identity verification requirements imposed on voters anywhere in the United States.[1] Michigan has had a voter identification law for decades, and these bills remove a critical safety measure in the law. The safety measure is in place to ensure no registered voter in Michigan is denied the right to vote because they misplaced, lost or lack a photo ID. More than ten thousand registered voters in Michigan would have been denied a ballot in the November 2020 election without this safety measure. Black voters would be disproportionately denied the right to vote under these bills.

“The bills would deny a ballot to registered voters who appear at their polling location to vote if the poll worker decided their signature didn’t match the signature on file for the voter.  Signature matching is a process currently utilized in Michigan to verify the identity of absentee voters only. Signature verification is a complex and time-consuming process, currently conducted by city and township clerks and their staff over a period of weeks. Requiring poll workers to verify the signatures of every single voter would not only lead to tremendously long lines at every polling location, it would give poll workers the ability to arbitrarily deny any registered voter a ballot. Elderly voters and voters with disabilities, whose signatures change over time, would be disproportionately denied the right to vote under these bills.

“No state in the country imposes these burdensome restrictions on their registered voters when voting at their polling location.  These bills are not what the voters of Michigan want. Michigan voters overwhelmingly support creating a voting system that works for all of us. The Senate should reject these bills and this self-serving attempt to exclude American citizens from making their voice heard at the ballot box. And if the Senate does pass these bills, the Governor should veto them.”

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[1] According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, only seven states severely limit the options voters have to verify their identity at their polling location.  See Voter Identification Requirements (https://www.ncsl.org/research/elections-and-campaigns/voter-id.aspx). Only four states require the signature of every registered voter to match the signature on file in order to vote at their polling location. See Statutory Requirements for States with Non-Documentary ID Requirements (https://www.ncsl.org/research/elections-and-campaigns/voter-verification-without-id-documents.aspx).

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