Some lawmakers and student groups are worried a package of bills headed to the Michigan House could make it significantly harder for campus organizations to register voters. A package of bills slated for discussion today in the House Redistricting and Elections Committee would add more requirements for third party groups to register voters, requiring leaders to pass a government-run certification class before kicking off election drives. It also would require applicants to present photo identification and swear under oath that they are a U.S. citizen. The issue quickly has become a divisive debate in Michigan, reflecting a national partisan conflict about how to regulate democracy’s most fundamental practice.
Republican supporters, who passed the bill through the Senate in February, have said the bills’ goal is to beef up election security. “This is a good caution effort to ensure we have very legal and proper elections,” Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, said.
But it is being denounced by some Democratic student groups as a painstaking hoop to jump through in order to hold election drives on campus; House Democrats have even called it a concerted effort by Republicans to squelch youth and minority votes — demographics that historically have leaned to the left. The law, which tentatively would take effect June 1, would require one member of a third party registrant organization to pass a training course and educate other members.