State Considers Adding Barriers to Voting

State Considers Adding Barriers to Voting

(Crystal A. Proxmire, 12/13/2011)

The Michigan Senate is considering a bill that would change the way voter registration is done in this state, adding restrictions to the electoral process.

The bill, Senate Bill 754, can be read in its entirety at http://www.legislature.mi.gov/documents/2011-2012/billintroduced/Senate/htm/2011-SIB-0754.htm.

The proposed legislation would require a person to show a photo ID when registering in person or else their application is treated as a mail in. It requires groups doing voter registration drives to comply with a series of bureaucratic requirements unlike those in the past or by other states, and it requires all voter registration forms be turned in within one business day if collected at a voter registration drive in the week prior to the registration deadline for a Federal election.

Susan Smith, President of the League of Women Voters of Michigan, said in a Morning Sun editorial, wrote “The League of Women Voters believes that all citizens should have the opportunity to vote. Bills that have recently been introduced in the Michigan state Legislature would restrict that opportunity by adding unnecessary requirements to absentee voting and to voter registration.”

She goes on to explain the role of League of Women Voters in registering voters, and how the proposed bill would limit that:

“The League of Women Voters has been registering voters for 90 years. Many local leagues provide this service to their communities, registering citizens at community colleges, high schools, churches, senior citizen centers, libraries and other community gathering places.

‘New laws would restrict the ability of organizations like the League to register voters. Those who register voters would have to be trained and certified. It is not known how frequently training would be offered and how convenient the training locations would be to local communities. These requirements would make it more difficult to conduct registration drives and thus reduce opportunities for citizens to register.

‘A voter registration drive provides a convenient opportunity to register. The people assisting with registration need do nothing more than ask a person if they are registered, provide a registration form, and return the completed form to the appropriate clerk’s office. This work does not require specialized training,” Smith wrote.

The bill, Senate Bill 754, can be read in its entirety at http://www.legislature.mi.gov/documents/2011-2012/billintroduced/Senate/htm/2011-SIB-0754.htm.

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