Ruth Johnson

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Michigan: New law requires Michigan voters to affirm U.S. citizenship | wzzm13.com

Voters must declare they are qualified to vote before getting a ballot under a bill signed into law by Gov. Rick Snyder. The Republican governor signed legislation Friday containing that requirement and other election law changes. Representatives for Snyder and Secretary of State Ruth Johnson say the leaders worked out concerns that led to his veto of similar legislation this summer. 

Michigan: Michigan Secretary of State urges clerks to replace forms that have U.S. citizenship question | Detroit Free Press

The Michigan Secretary of State’s Office is recommending that municipalities use applications to vote that don’t contain the U.S. citizenship question for the Nov. 6 election. The state is encouraging clerks to use older versions of the small forms — on which voters fill out their name, address and date of birth — without the question or obtain an adequate number of new forms without it, according to a Wednesday bulletin sent to clerks. Earlier this month, U.S. District Judge Paul Borman in Detroit granted a permanent injunction ordering Secretary of State Ruth Johnson to keep the question off the forms. But ordering new forms could cost clerks. New forms cost about $600 in Rochester Hills, City Clerk Jane Leslie said. She said her office personnel and election aides started to obscure the question on the forms but said new forms were ordered to avoid any problems. She said the question was blackened out on all applications for absentee ballots. “It’s much simpler to replace those forms,” she said. “We want to make it as simple as possible and limit disputes.”

Full Article: Secretary of State urges clerks to replace forms that have U.S. citizenship question | Politics/Election 2012 | Detroit Free Press | freep.com.

Michigan: Voting rights coalition argues against citizenship check box on Michigan ballots | Detroit Free Press

There will be a “hitch” in the voting process if U.S. citizenship check boxes are used on ballot applications at the polls during the Nov. 6 presidential election. That’s the crux of an argument by a voting rights coalition that is challenging the use of the check boxes and is asking a federal judge in Detroit to issue a preliminary injunction to stop Secretary of State Ruth Johnson from requiring the boxes on ballot applications. “Our evidence shows there will be many jurisdictions where the voters will not be asked to check the citizenship box, others where they will be asked if there is no injunction,” Mary Ellen Gurewitz, an attorney for the coalition argued today before U.S. District Court Judge Paul D. Borman. “There will be this hitch.”

Full Article: Voting rights coalition argues against citizenship check box on ballots | Politics/Election 2012 | Detroit Free Press | freep.com.

Michigan: Secretary of State Ruth Johnson ordered to appear in court for hearing in voting case | Detroit Free Press

A federal judge has ordered Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson to appear in court on Friday for a hearing over her plans to require the use of citizenship check-off boxes on voter applications statewide for the Nov. 6 presidential election. Johnson’s office filed an emergency motion Monday asking U.S. District Judge Paul D. Borman to allow her director of elections, Christopher Thomas, to be substituted in her place at the hearing in Detroit. As of Wednesday, the judge had not ruled on that request, court records showed. An accompanying brief lists two reasons for the request: that Johnson has 11th Amendment immunity and that she should not be compelled to testify where a lower-ranking official has the requisite authority and knowledge.

Full Article: Secretary of State Ruth Johnson ordered to appear in court for hearing in voting case | Politics/Election 2012 | Detroit Free Press | freep.com.

Michigan: Citizenship question ordered off Michigan voter form | The Detroit News

A federal judge late Friday ordered Secretary of State Ruth Johnson to remove a U.S. citizenship question from ballot applications for the Nov. 6 election, citing inconsistent enforcement and potential “confusion” at the polls. “It really is a burden on the right to vote in terms of slowing things down, in terms of confusion,” U.S. District Court Paul Borman said in ruling from the bench after a six-hour hearing. Johnson, a Republican, said she was disappointed by the judge’s ruling. She questioned why she was hauled into court Friday and defended the citizenship question as a tool to root out noncitizens on the voter rolls. “This is an education tool that we found that works,” Johnson told reporters.

Full Article: Citizenship question ordered off voter form | The Detroit News | detroitnews.com.

Voting Blogs: Thousands of Non-Citizen Voters? It’s Déjà Vu in Michigan | Brennan Center for Justice

Michigan’s Secretary of State is joining a growing trend among state elections officials: Declare that thousands of non-citizens are registered to vote and then use those allegations to justify efforts that confuse, intimidate, and in some cases purge eligible voters on the eve of the election. But similar claims about ineligible voters in Florida and Colorado were debunked within a matter of weeks after being publicly disclosed. So why is Sec. Ruth Johnson jumping on the bandwagon, saying there are 4,000 non-citizens registered to vote? Is there something different about Michigan? Almost certainly not. To quickly recap: In Florida it was initially asserted that as many as 180,000 potential non-citizens were registered to vote. Claims of registered non-citizens in Colorado were smaller, but still in the thousands — over 11,000. But as time went by, these lists decreased in size. In Florida, 180,000 morphed into 2,600 and later into 198, while in the Centennial state 11,000 shrunk to 3,900 and then to 141. The final numbers represent thousandths of a percent of all registered voters in each state. But Michigan is a different state. Perhaps Johnson has learned from these fiascos and developed a more reliable and efficient system for identifying the extremely small percentage of non-citizens who may be on the rolls? Unfortunately, no.

Full Article: Thousands of Non-Citizen Voters? It’s Déjà Vu in Michigan | Brennan Center for Justice.

Voting Blogs: Thousands of Non-Citizen Voters? It’s Déjà Vu in Michigan | Brennan Center for Justice

Michigan’s Secretary of State is joining a growing trend among state elections officials: Declare that thousands of non-citizens are registered to vote and then use those allegations to justify efforts that confuse, intimidate, and in some cases purge eligible voters on the eve of the election. But similar claims about ineligible voters in Florida and Colorado were debunked within a matter of weeks after being publicly disclosed. So why is Sec. Ruth Johnson jumping on the bandwagon, saying there are 4,000 non-citizens registered to vote? Is there something different about Michigan? Almost certainly not. To quickly recap: In Florida it was initially asserted that as many as 180,000 potential non-citizens were registered to vote. Claims of registered non-citizens in Colorado were smaller, but still in the thousands — over 11,000. But as time went by, these lists decreased in size. In Florida, 180,000 morphed into 2,600 and later into 198, while in the Centennial state 11,000 shrunk to 3,900 and then to 141. The final numbers represent thousandths of a percent of all registered voters in each state. But Michigan is a different state. Perhaps Johnson has learned from these fiascos and developed a more reliable and efficient system for identifying the extremely small percentage of non-citizens who may be on the rolls? Unfortunately, no.

Full Article: Thousands of Non-Citizen Voters? It’s Déjà Vu in Michigan | Brennan Center for Justice.

Michigan: Detroit will remove citizenship box from ballot applications, defies Secretary of State Ruth Johnson | MLive.com

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.

Full Article: Detroit will remove citizenship box from ballot applications, defies Secretary of State Ruth Johnson | MLive.com.

Michigan: Secretary of state defends citizenship question on ballots | The Detroit News

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.

Full Article: Secretary of state defends citizenship question on ballots | The Detroit News | detroitnews.com.

Michigan: Court Challenge Filed Over Ballot Citizenship Checkbox | Huffington Post

A voting rights coalition is taking Michigan’s Secretary of State to court over a controversial citizenship checkboxthat appeared on primary ballots across the state this past August. The group filed a lawsuit against Secretary of State Ruth Johnson Monday in federal court. The coalition includes the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, UAW International, Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Latin Americans for Social and Economic Development (LA SED), Ingham County Clerk Michael Bryanton, and registered voters from East Lansing, Shelby Township, and Buena Vista Township. “The Secretary of State may be the chief election officer in the state, but she is not above the law,” Kary L. Moss, executive director of the ACLU of Michigan, said in a release. “By ignoring the administrative rule-making and legislative processes, she has thumbed her nose at the electorate and flouted the very laws she was elected to uphold. We can all agree that it should be easier to vote and harder to cheat, but cynical voter suppression tactics should not be tolerated.”

Full Article: Voter Fraud: Michigan Court Challenge Filed Over Ballot Citizenship Checkbox.

Michigan: Rights groups sue over citizenship checkboxes for voters | Detroit Free Press

A federal judge will likely decide whether Michigan voters will have to check off whether they are U.S. citizens when they go to the polls in November. A coalition of voting rights groups filed a lawsuit Monday in U.S. District Court in Detroit challenging Secretary of State Ruth Johnson’s decision to require U.S. citizenship checkboxes on applications to vote, saying the boxes are unconstitutional and violate federal and state law. Mary Ellen Gurewitz, attorney for the plaintiffs, said the group will head to court within a day or two to request a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction. “This is a matter that has to be addressed quickly because the forms are being ordered and printed and money is being spent,” she said.

Full Article: Rights groups sue over citizenship checkboxes for Michigan voters | Metro Detroit | Detroit Free Press | freep.com.

Michigan: County clerks defy ballot citizenship rule | The Detroit News

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. 

Full Article: Clerks defy ballot citizenship rule | The Detroit News | detroitnews.com.

Michigan: Democrats propose easier military voting rules | CadillacNews.com

Minority Democrats in the state Senate introduced legislation Tuesday to make it easier for members of the armed forces stationed internationally to vote in Michigan elections. The bills would let service members’ absentee ballots be counted as long as they’re postmarked by Election Day and would allow absentee ballots to be submitted electronically, according to the office of Democratic leader Gretchen Whitmer. Another bill in the package would permit statewide online voter registration, Whitmer’s office said in a statement. “On this important day, we should recognize the American men and women who are fighting to protect our way of life and do our part here at home to ensure their rights are upheld,” said Whitmer. “No voter should be unduly disenfranchised, let alone our men and women in the military, and this legislation will protect our service members’ votes. While they are serving our country overseas, they should not lose their voice over here.”

Full Article: CadillacNews.com.

Michigan: Secretary of State keeping citizen check-off box | The Detroit News

Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson vows that a check-off box asking voters to confirm their U.S. citizenship will once again appear on November ballot applications, raising concerns among voting rights advocates who argue it’s unnecessary, intimidating and could suppress voting. Johnson defends her decision to keep the box she ordered in the February and August primary elections as a legal and appropriate extra step to ensure only citizens participate in elections — even after fellow Republican Gov. Rick Snyder recently vetoed a bill that included a requirement for voters to check a similar citizenship box. “The secretary of state has the authority under state law to prescribe forms, including the ballot application form,” said department spokesman Fred Woodhams, who added this past week she’s pressing forward after a coalition led by the nonpartisan Michigan Election Coalition said it sent her a letter urging her to “immediately halt” using the citizenship check-off.

Full Article: Michigan Sec of State keeping citizen check-off box | The Detroit News | detroitnews.com.

Michigan: U.S. District Court Issues Decision Explaining Why Sore Loser Law Applies to Gary Johnson | Ballot Access News

On the afternoon of September 7, U.S. District Court Judge Paul D. Borman issued this 25-page opinion in Libertarian Party of Michigan v Ruth Johnson, eastern district, 12-cv-12782. He had ruled the day before that the Libertarian Party has lost this case, but only on September 7 did his opinion explain why. The decision implies on page 17 that the precedent set in 1980 by John B. Anderson, who ran in Michigan’s presidential primary and also ran as a minor party nominee, doesn’t apply because Anderson’s name wasn’t on the Republican primary ballot in Michigan. But, that implication is mistaken. Anderson’s name did appear on the Republican presidential primary ballot in 1980 and his votes were counted. The decision says that the Michigan Supreme Court had removed Anderson’s name from the 1980 presidential primary ballot. Because this writer is on vacation, and has no access to his home files or a law library, this assertion must remain a mystery for a few days, unless someone else has more information.

Full Article: Ballot Access News » Blog Archive » U.S. District Court Issues Decision in Libertarian Party of Michigan v Ruth Johnson, Explaining Why Sore Loser Law Applies to Gary Johnson.

Michigan: Reports of confusion, frustration over voter ID law after Michigan primary | Michigan Radio

Some Michigan voters were wrongly turned away from the polls last Tuesday after refusing to affirm their US citizenship. But some other voters—and an elections watchdog group—say they also encountered problems with misguided enforcement of the state’s voter ID law. Jennifer Gariepy she walked to her polling place in Warren to vote without photo ID. She said poll workers there told her she couldn’t vote without one—even though state law allows people without ID to vote, if they sign a legal affidavit affirming their identity. “And [I said], ‘No! That’s not right. You can’t refuse me a ballot,’” Gariepy recalled. Gariepy said the poll workers relented after awhile, and she did get did to vote–eventually. “I had to insist,” she said. “They weren’t about to volunteer that.” Hundreds of similar reports came into an election protection hotline last Tuesday, says Jocelyn Benson, head of the Michigan Center for Election Law.

Full Article: Reports of confusion, frustration over voter ID law after Tuesday primary | Michigan Radio.

Michigan: Justice Department sues Michigan for failure to send absentee ballots in time to military, overseas voters | MLive.com

The U.S. Justice Department sued the state Tuesday, seeking an order requiring that hundreds of military and overseas voters who did not receive absentee ballots on time be given more time for their votes to be counted. The lawsuit – predicted late last week by Republican Secretary of State Ruth Johnson – was filed in the Grand Rapids federal courthouse. Johnson had warned that 70 of more than 1,500 local clerks did not mail or email absentee ballots to military and overseas voters on time. More than 200 others did not give the state a status update on whether they had met the 45-day deadline to do so before the Aug. 7 primary election. As of Tuesday, the number of non-responders had dropped to 24. Federal attorneys also are seeking to make sure all absentee votes are counted for the Sept. 5 special primary election in the 11th Congressional District in suburban Detroit. “Americans have fought and died for the right to vote,” said Patrick Miles, U.S. attorney for the Western District of Michigan. “We must ensure eligible voters have the opportunity to cast their vote and for it to count.”

Full Article: Justice Department sues Michigan for failure to send absentee ballots in time to military, overseas voters | MLive.com.

Michigan: Audit finds State spent $50M on computer system plagued with problems | The Detroit News

The state Department of Technology, Management and Budget has spent $50 million so far on a new computer system for the Secretary of State’s office that still isn’t finished after more than a decade, according to a report released Thursday. The Business Application Modernization project was launched by Gov. Jennifer Granholm and meant to modernize how the state delivers services like vehicle titles, drivers’ licenses and voter registration. Just one part — ExpressSOS for online renewal of driver’s licenses and vehicle registration — has been delivered, and even that lacks some promised features. Officials from Technology, Management, and Budget and the Secretary of State’s office said they agree with the assessment by Michigan Auditor General Thomas McTavish and have taken steps to fix problems identified in the report. “The BAM project is not an example of how major IT projects should work,” said Kurt Weiss, spokesman for Technology, Management and Budget. “The issues raised in the audit have been addressed.” The auditor identified 12 problems starting when Electronic Data Systems first won the contract in 2004 though an unfair bidding process. Hewlett-Packard Co. took over when HP bought EDS in 2008, but the project continued to be plagued by mismanagement, delays and cost overruns.

Full Article: Audit finds state spent $50M on computer system plagued with problems | The Detroit News | detroitnews.com.

Editorials: A Crack in the GOP's Support for Voter-ID Laws | The American Prospect

There’s little question what the political calculus behind voter-ID laws is. Advocates argue that the laws, which require government photo identification to vote, are necessary to prevent voter fraud—despite there being virtually no evidence that such fraud is a problem. In practice, the laws will disproportionately have an impact on poor people and those of color, two Democratic-leaning groups that are less likely to have such IDs. Predictably, Republicans have been pushing for these laws, while Democrats generally oppose them. That is, until earlier this week, when Michigan Governor Rick Snyder shot down his own party and vetoed a state voter-ID law. He also vetoed laws that would have made it harder to conduct voter-registration drives and to confirm U.S. citizenship for voters. All three—pushed by Republican Secretary of State Ruth Johnson and sponsored by Republican lawmakers—would likely have dampened turnout, particularly among disadvantaged communities.

Full Article: A Crack in the GOP's Support for Voter-ID Laws.

Editorials: A Case Study in How Kris Kobach's Cabal Aims to Remake Election Law | The Nation

 “Some 1,500 people voted under dead people’s and prisoners’ names from 2008-11, according to Michigan’s auditor general. Many might be clerical errors, but this illustrates the need to ensure accurate voter rolls.” Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson wrote this in a July 2 Times-Herald column, and she lied. Johnson is a member of a fifteen-state consortium of right-wing elections officials that’s hellbent on purging voters. And her dishonest jousting in Michigan this week offers a window into how that consortium works—playing fast and loose with facts in order to create the impression of a problem that would justify their hardline solutions, and flouting the law themselves when necessary. Johnson’s Monday column was a last-ditch effort to persuade Governor Rick Snyder to sign into law herSecure and Fair Elections (SAFE) initiative, including the bills HB 5061 and SB 803, which respectively would force voters to reaffirm their citizenship before receiving a ballot and would require photo ID for absentee voting. Another bill, SB 754, would put onerous restrictions on third-party registration organizations, much like a Florida law that was recently blocked by a federal judge. On Tuesday, Governor Snyder vetoed those three bills, but preserved the rest of Johnson’s SAFE package. Despite Johnson’s constant refrain on dead people voting, her own Bureau of Elections has already established that there was no actual voter fraud in the auditor general’s report she referenced in her July 2 column.

Full Article: A Case Study in How Kris Kobach's Cabal Aims to Remake Election Law | The Nation.