Secretary of State Ruth Johnson’s office said Tuesday implementation of a new citizenship affirmation at the polls has gone “relatively smoothly” in response to a federal lawsuit challenging the ballot application question. Johnson, a Republican, responded Tuesday to a federal lawsuit filed last week by the ACLU of Michigan, SEIU, the Ingham County clerk and others challenging her authority to ask voters to affirm their citizenship before they vote. In the middle of the August primary, Johnson’s office backed away from its previous instructions to deny people ballots for refusing to answer the question amid confusion about her authority to impose the question — one month after Gov. Rick Snyder vetoed a bill Johnson sought to add the citizenship question to state law.
Predicting an “election disaster in the making,” plaintiffs are asking U.S. District Judge Paul D. Borman to block Johnson from forcing election clerks to add the question to Nov. 6 election ballot applications. In its court filing Tuesday, Johnson’s office reasserted her authority to prescribe ballot forms and said the lawsuit’s claims were “speculative and exaggerated.”
“Plaintiffs’ Chicken Little predictions are not virtually certain to occur if the citizenship question is used in November,” Johnson’s response reads. Meanwhile, Oakland County Clerk Bill Bullard Jr. has held up an order of ballot applications until the judge rules on the matter.