CALEDONIA, Mich. — After receiving approval on language from the State Board of Canvassers last week, an initiative to change the way Michiganders vote began collecting signatures Friday.
At an asphalt business in Caledonia, supporters and organizers of Secure MI Vote set up tents and tables as people trickled in to sign the petition — seeking 340,047 signatures, less than 4 percent of the state’s voting population.
Despite hundreds of audits and a bipartisan report led by GOP Rep. Ed McBroom, as well as multiple failed lawsuits saying the state’s election was secure, Secure MI Vote is seeking to alter ID laws and absentee voting.
Currently, Michigan does not require state ID to vote in person or request an absentee ballot.
The petition, if passed, would require Michigan voters to present state ID at the polls if voting in person. If they do not, their ballot is held, and they then have six days to present an ID to their local clerk or their vote is not counted. Currently, voters who do not have proof of ID while voting in person are allowed to sign an affidavit under consequence of perjury.
Also under the petition, local clerks and election offices would no longer be able to accept private donations to help run elections.
The petition also seeks to change the request process for an absentee ballot. Currently, as in the 2020 election, applications for absentee ballots were mailed to voters unsolicited. Under the petition’s language, a voter would have to enter their state ID number or the last four digits of their Social Security number on the application to receive a ballot. If that information is missing, the voter would receive a provisional ballot that wouldn’t be counted until they show their ID to a local clerk’s office within six days after the election.
Those critical of the initiative say it will discourage or even disenfranchise low-income and elderly voters and voters of color from casting a ballot. The ACLU notes that 25 percent of black voters in the state of Michigan do not possess a government ID compared to 8 percent of white voters.
Mary Clark, the clerk in Delta Township and president of the Michigan Association of Municipal Clerks, is also worried many of her voters, with and without IDs, will be confused by the new processes of requesting and voting absentee.
“How are we going to manage those applications, which are going to come in, with that information not on it because they’re not used to it, they may not see it, they may not understand that it is the tipping point as to whether or not their ballot is counted?” she said.
Clark also added that if they forget or neglect to enter their ID number of social, they won’t be able to get to a clerk’s office to correct their error — another barrier to casting a ballot. She says roughly 13,000 of her 26,000 voters fit that bill.
“The majority of people on these lists are on these lists, many of them, because they aren’t 100 percent mobile. They rely on family for transportation or there’s reasons why they aren’t going to the polls to vote,” said Clark.
At an event to collect signatures today, Kristina Karamo, a GOP candidate for Secretary of State who has been endorsed by former President Donald Trump, said if elected, she would bolster existing programs for all Michiganders to retrieve a state issued ID.
“Not supporting voter ID laws disenfranchises all Michiganders because it allows illegal ballots to be injected into the system,” said Karamo, a poll watcher in Detroit who supported legal efforts to overturn the 2020 election results. “We want to guarantee that everybody in Michigan has an ID whether you’re homeless or, what have you, a parolee, low-income person. In the state of Michigan, low-income people can get free IDs.”
Due to a provision unique to Michigan, if passed, the initiative wouldn’t go to a ballot vote but would instead be passed off to state legislators for their approval. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer vetoed a similar set of bills months ago, and if Secure MI Vote gets the signatures they need, the changes would be veto-proof.