LANSING, Mich. — Last week, the State Board of Canvassers approved an initiative seeking to change several election laws including requiring voters without ID to produce one within six days of casting a ballot.
Critics say the initiative is a direct attack on minorities and low-income voter rights.
Secure MI Vote has four major items it seeks to change – but the one that is getting the most attention focuses on voters who show up to vote without an ID.
“The Secure MI Vote proposal is closing a loophole in the Michigan's voter ID law," said Jamie Roe, Secure MI Vote campaign spokesperson. "That would require people who come to the polling place without an ID they would still be able to sign an affidavit and vote that day but the vote wouldn't be counted until they come back in six days and show their ID to the clerk and then then it's counted like normal. Under the current law if you don't have an ID and you're allowed to vote on site and it goes into the ballot box and if it's later proven that you aren't who you said you were there's no way to retrieve the vote,”.
Lansing City Clerk, Chris Swope, says the proposals target vulnerable segments of the population.
“Lower income people are less likely to have that drivers license and most people that don't get a drivers license, very few actually go through the steps to get a state ID. Those are the types of people that would be more impacted,” Swope said.
But Roe says recent polling shows the segments of the voting bloc critics are accusing the campaign of targeting are on-board with some of the changes.
“In recent polling done by the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce showed that fully 70 percent of African Americans polled support having to show an idea of the polling place, so I think that that trope is trotted out by folks in the left but it doesn't hold any water,” said Roe.
Swope also says he’s really concerned about another provision in the proposal that would ban donations of any kind to clerk’s offices.
"We use volunteers to help us run elections. That would be banned is my reading of this proposal. I think it has some very serious flaws," Swope said.
Some of the other provisions in the initiative include establishing a fund to provide Michigan voters with a free ID and prohibiting local clerks and the secretary of state from sending absentee ballot applications. to those who didn't request them.
Roe says the Secure MI Vote campaign expects to dispatch canvassers to collect signatures within the next few days.
State law requires them to collect 340,000 signatures to put the matter before the legislature.
A successful petition drive would allow Republicans to avoid a veto from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who vetoed four election-related bills Sunday night.
In cases where the legislature adopts resident-initiated legislation, state law prohibits the governor from vetoing it.