Michigan Republicans Abandon Discriminatory Voter ID Law

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Michigan Republicans Abandon Discriminatory Voter ID Law

Michelle D. Anderson

Nearly 18,400 residents without identification used affidavits to vote on Election Day 2016, the NAACP noted in a statement. One-third of those voters were from Detroit.

The Michigan state senate has shelved a set of discriminatory voter ID bills passed by the house during the legislature’s lame-duck session this month.

Republican Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof (R-West Olive) shared the news Tuesday with the Detroit branch of the NAACP, the organization’s president Rev. Dr. Wendell Anthony told Rewire in a phone interview.

The three-bill package would have continued to allow voters without IDs to sign an affidavit on Election Day, but would have required them to bring voter identification to their local clerk’s office within ten days of casting a provisional ballot.

Voters who failed to comply with the new requirement would have forfeited their ballot.

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The NAACP on Tuesday met at the state capitol for a Day of Action, where Anthony declared the shelving of the voter ID measures a “victory” and “a great Christmas present.”

Anthony told Rewire the abandoned voter ID effort was nothing more than an attempt to suppress voting among historically underrepresented groups in places like Detroit.

Nearly 18,400 residents without identification used affidavits to vote on Election Day 2016, the NAACP noted in a statement. One-third of those voters were from Detroit.

Anthony called the voter ID package “a solution in search of a crisis” and said there is no proof of widespread voter fraud anywhere in the United States. He cited a Brennan Institute report charging that being struck by lightning was more common than voter fraud.

The legislative package would have created more than $10 million in appropriations that would have made the law immune to a voter referendum and would have allowed state officials to waive fees associated with voter ID and birth certificates.

Anthony panned the appropriation provision in the abandoned bill, saying Michigan lawmakers should instead use any available funds for new voting machines, education, and “optical scanners so people don’t jam up the machines.”

He urged state lawmakers to pursue same-day registration and early voting, also known as “no-reason absentee voting.” Michigan allows voters to cast absentee ballots under certain conditions, such as being at least 60 years old. Many local clerks, however, don’t require proof of these conditions.

A voter ID law in North Carolina was struck down in July by a circuit court, which ruled that the restrictions had been enacted with discriminatory intent in violation of the Voting Rights Act.