The city of Detroit plans to remove a citizenship question from ballot applications before the November election – another direct challenge to the Republican secretary of state’s authority to require the check-off box. “There’s no mandate,” Detroit Elections Director Daniel Baxter told MLive on Wednesday. “The governor vetoed that part of the bill. There’s no legal requirement for electors to declare their citizenship when they go to vote. That’s the bottom line.” Election workers will black out the box ordered by Secretary of State Ruth Johnson, he said. Johnson spokeswoman Gisgie Gendreau said Johnson still expects local clerks to use the form prescribed by her. She said Detroit’s elections bureau – at the request of the state elections bureau – agreed on Wednesday to hold off on covering up the citizenship box until a federal judge rules in a related lawsuit. Baxter could not be reached for comment late Wednesday afternoon.
The state on Tuesday sent instructions to clerks noting that – consistent with an October 2011 communication – existing ballot applications without the citizenship question could only be used through the August primary but it should appear on all applications starting with the Nov. 6 election. Detroit, the state’s largest municipality to administer elections, has about 560,000 registered voters. The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan and other groups sued last week to stop Johnson – the top elections official in the state – from requiring local clerks to ask the citizenship question.