Some local election officials are resisting Secretary of State Ruth Johnson’s demand voting applications in the Nov. 6 general election that ask voters to affirm their U.S. citizenship. Clerks in Macomb County and Lansing plan to defy Johnson’s instructions and remove the question from ballot applications, and the Washtenaw County Election Commission voted Thursday to leave it off the forms after the county clerk planned to give townships and cities the option to ask about citizenship. “It seems like it doesn’t really add anything positive to the process. People have already affirmed their citizenship when they register to vote,” Lansing City Clerk Chris Swope told The Detroit News.
Other clerks said they have no plans to enforce the question or will use old forms that don’t inquire about citizenship. As a reason why they don’t have to comply, several clerks cited Gov. Rick Snyder’s July veto of a bill that would have made the question law. “What you learn in high school in your civics class is the secretary of state has no authority to override the governor’s authority,” Macomb County Clerk Carmella Sabaugh, a Democrat, said.
Johnson, a Republican, has insisted voters affirm their citizenship so the state can root out an unknown number of noncitizen immigrants who have been inadvertently registered to vote over the years while getting a driver’s license at a Secretary of State office. Noncitizens who vote can face felonies, be denied naturalized citizenship or be deported, immigration attorneys say.