In light of all the regressive measures enacted by our Legislature over the past 18 months, Gov. Rick Snyder’s veto of a package of “voter ID” and registration reform bills was a welcome and unexpected occurrence. This legislation was nothing more than an attempt to suppress voter turnout. Much like attacks on collective bargaining, “election reform” bills that make the voting process more difficult have swept the nation in recent years. Voter suppression legislation has gained approval in Republican-controlled state governments at an alarming rate. For Snyder to stand up to the right wing of his party and reject these bills here in Michigan was an act of courage and conviction.
Senate Bill 754 bill would have required organizations conducting voter registration drives to have state-mandated training and fill out additional paperwork. However, the training had not yet been specified, nor had the paperwork been developed. Non-partisan organizations such as the League of Women Voters of Michigan have been conducting voter registration drives for decades and were not in need of additional training or paperwork. This bill simply put more obstacles in the way of registering voters. Snyder rightly claimed that the changes were last-minute and could cause confusion.
House Bill 5061 required voters who do not provide a photo identification when obtaining an absentee ballot in person to sign an affidavit swearing to their identity, but their votes would be considered a challenged ballot. Senate Bill 803 would have denied voting rights to any qualified voter who refuses to check a box that confirms citizenship, although voters are already required to declare citizenship when they register.