The post-Trump assault on voting rights has already begun in Michigan… Here’s what you can do to fight back


A few days ago, after Trump made the unsubstantiated claim that “millions” of people had voted illegally for his opponent during the recent presidential election, we discussed the possibility that this heightened rhetoric of his concerning voter fraud, which was particularly odd given the fact that he’d won the election, might have been a preemptive justification for significantly expanded Republican voter suppression efforts intended to influence the outcomes of future elections by keeping even more Americans of color from voting. Well, it looks like it’s already beginning to happen here in Michigan.

This morning, in a meeting of the House Elections Committee, Republican Lisa Posthumous Lyons, of Michigan’s 86th District, proposed a series of bills [HB 6066, 6067, and 6068] intended to make voting in Michigan more difficult for people of lesser financial means by putting significant new hurdles in place.

HB 6066, if passed, would require that people obtain photo identification before being allowed to vote in Michigan. [The current system allows for people to sign an affidavit attesting to the fact that they are who they claim to be.] The other two bills, as I understand it, would make state ID and birth records available for free in Michigan. This, I’m told, is being done not because Republicans want to make IDs more accessible, but because, if they didn’t make IDs and birth certificates available for free, HB 6066 would likely be found unconstitutional, as, under current law, you cannot require that people be forced to spend money in order to vote, as doing so would be considered a poll tax… I suppose, however, it’s acceptable under the constitution to require that people expend the effort to track down documentation and spend hours on end waiting in line for an ID.

[Sorry for the interruption, but I’ve got a question… What happens when someone living here in Michigan wasn’t born here, and needs to acquire a birth certificate from out-of-state in order to attain a state issued ID? Will the state be reimbursing people if fees are involved? And, if not, wouldn’t that constitute a poll tax?]

And, I know we’ve discussed it before, but it’s probably worth noting again that, despite what Trump may have tweeted earlier this week about “millions” of people assuming false identities to vote, America does not have a problem when it comes to voter impersonation. Voter fraud, at least on the individual level, as anyone who works in this field will tell you, is extremely rare. In evidence of this fact, a comprehensive investigation in 2014 found that, out of 1 billion votes cast in the United States, there were only 31 credible incidents of voter impersonation. And, this past election cycle, the only documented instance, at least to my knowledge, was a single woman in Iowa who was caught attempting to vote for Trump twice. So, this legislation being put forward by Lyons, at best, is a solution in need of a problem. At worst, however, it’s a very deliberate attempt to discourage a relatively significant portion of our population from voting. [It’s estimated that over 10% of eligible American voters do not have any official form of identification.]

By way of context, here’s a clip from The Nation about what Republicans have already done to gut the Voting Rights Act and “institutionalize voter suppression at every level of government.”

…We can already glimpse how a Trump administration will undermine voting rights, based on the people he nominated to top positions, those he has advising him, and his own statements.

His pick for attorney general, Jeff Sessions, wrongly prosecuted black civil-rights activists for voter fraud in Alabama in the 1980s, called the Voting Rights Act “a piece of intrusive legislation,” and praised the Supreme Court’s gutting of the Voting Rights Act in 2013…

If you want a better idea of the lengths a Trump administration might go to suppress voting rights, take a look at what Republicans are doing in North Carolina right now. A month after the Supreme Court ruled that states with a long history of discrimination no longer had to approve their voting changes with the federal government, North Carolina Republicans passed a “monster” voter-suppression law that required strict photo ID, cut early voting, and eliminated same-day registration and pre-registration for 16- and 17-year-olds.

Like in so many-GOP controlled states, Republicans in North Carolina justified the voting restrictions by spreading false claims about voter fraud. (Such fraud was in fact exceedingly rare: There were only two cases of voter impersonation in North Carolina from 2002 to 2012 out of 35 million votes cast.)

The United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit found that North Carolina’s law targeted African Americans “with almost surgical precision.” But even after the court restored a week of early voting, GOP-controlled county election boards limited early voting hours and polling locations. The executive director of the North Carolina Republican Party called on Republicans to make “party line changes to early voting” that included opposing polling sites on college campuses and prohibiting early voting on Sundays, when black churches held “Souls to the Polls” voter-mobilization drives. The North Carolina GOP bragged before Election Day that “African American Early Voting is down 8.5% from this time in 2012. Caucasian voters early voting is up 22.5% from this time in 2012.”…

Before we move on, it should also be noted that, as a result of those 2013 changes to the Voting Rights Act noted above, there were 868 fewer polling places this year than in 2012, and a majority of those closures were in states like Louisiana and Mississippi, that have a history of voter suppression.

So, now Michigan is headed down the same slippery slope, attempting to put even greater hurdles before the voting public, in hopes of keeping them from the polls. It’s apparently not enough that they’ve gerrymandered the hell out of our voting districts in order to ensure that they will remain in power even as they continue to lose the popular vote in Michigan, but they’re now attempting to ensure that those who aren’t likely Republican stay away from the polls.

But there’s something that you can do to stop it from happening. First thing Thursday morning, before the members of the House Elections Committee meet, you can call them in their offices and demand that they table House Bill 6066 until such time that they can prove we have a voter impersonation problem in Michigan. Here are the members of the committee.

Lisa Posthumus Lyons (R) Committee Chair, 86th District
Eric Leutheuser (R) Majority Vice-Chair, 58th District
Bradford Jacobsen (R) 46th District
Aric Nesbitt (R) 66th District
Klint Kesto (R) 39th District
Gretchen Driskell (D) Minority Vice-Chair, 52nd District
Jeff Irwin (D) 53rd District
Jon Hoadley (D) 60th District

If you follow those links, you’ll find their phone numbers. Just call and say, “I expect you to keep HB 6066 from leaving committee.” And then share this post with your friends around the state of Michigan, especially those who live in the districts of the Republicans noted above, and ask them to do the same.

And, if we can’t keep HB 6066 in committee, and the Republicans try to rush it through to a vote in the Michigan House, be prepared to call your State Rep and demand that they not vote for this legislation. You can find the contact information for your State Rep here. [I’m told that this could leave committee and go to a vote on the floor of the House as early as tomorrow, so be ready to call your Rep as soon as you hear anything. Or, better yet, call you Rep proactively and say, “If HB 606 leaves committee and comes to a vote, I expect you to vote against it.]

I know it may not sound like a big deal to require that people have photo IDs in order to vote. You might be thinking, “I stood in line at the Secretary of State office, why can’t everyone else?” The truth is, however, that not everyone has the means to track down the required paperwork, or the time to invest in navigating the state bureaucracy. More importantly, though, we should be looking ways to open up access right now, and not limit it. Not only is there no credible evidence that voter fraud, like that which HB 6066 is seeking to stop, even exists, but a huge percentage of our citizens aren’t participating as it is. [Michigan, with a population of 9.91 million, has 7,481,074 registered voters, 4.9 million of whom voted in the last presidential election.] If we want to pass any election related laws right now, they should be directed toward increasing access, not limiting it.

And, one last thing… If we don’t stop this now, they’ll keep at it. You can be sure there will be even fewer polling places in communities of color, and even greater hurdles intended to keep certain people from voting. As we’ve discussed before, the Republicans cannot win otherwise. They just don’t have the numbers. So they need to find ways, through gerrymandering and voter suppression, to stay in power. And it’s our job not only to stop them, but to turn the tide in the other direction, fighting for non-partisan redistricting, early voting, and anything else that we can think of to increase democratic participation.

So start calling, OK? The assault isn’t coming. It’s already here. And we need to start fighting.

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  1. stupid hick
    Posted November 30, 2016 at 11:43 pm | Permalink

    Mark, everything you try will continue to be futile, unless you first convince your followers to join the Republican party and invest time studying the comment sections of right wing blogs.

  2. Chris
    Posted December 1, 2016 at 6:41 am | Permalink

    If only there were an app for this. (wink}

  3. Meta
    Posted December 1, 2016 at 7:28 am | Permalink

    From the Detroit Free Press:

    Less than a month after the Nov. 8 general election, Republicans in the Michigan’s House of Representatives are looking at bills that would make voter ID laws more stringent in the state.

    Under the bills, legally registered voters who don’t have their photo identification when they go to vote would have to use a provisional ballot. Those ballots would be held aside and not counted until the person goes to their local clerk’s office with their photo identification and proves they are who they say they are. They would have 10 days after an election to provide such proof.

    Currently, a voter who forgets their identification has to sign an affidavit that they are who they say they are. But if they show up on voting lists at their precincts, their votes are counted that day. For the Nov. 8 election, the Secretary of State’s Office reported that 18,339 people showed up at the precincts who were listed on the voting rolls, but had no photo identification. They signed affidavits and were allowed to have their vote counted on Election Day. In 2012, 12,093 people showed up without photo identification.

    The new law would add the wrinkle of having to provide photo ID to clerks within 10 days, or face the prospect that their vote, ultimately, would not be counted.

    Read more:

  4. Somebody
    Posted December 1, 2016 at 7:36 am | Permalink

    But I love Raisin Bran!

  5. Somebody
    Posted December 1, 2016 at 7:37 am | Permalink

    Sorry about that. Wrong comment section.

  6. Gary McCririe
    Posted December 1, 2016 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    You need an ID to do virtually EVERYTHING else in this country. Cash a check, fly on a plane, get insurance, get benefits, get a job, etc. It is next to impossible to exist without some form of ID. What is everyone afraid of? You can wave the suppression banner around, but there is no evidence it would have that effect.

  7. Elizabeth Rodriguiz
    Posted December 1, 2016 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    Thank you, Mark. I just called and left very polite messages. (Yelling is not my thing.)

  8. Teacher Patti
    Posted December 1, 2016 at 9:10 am | Permalink

    I didn’t understand at first and a friend (kindly) explained to me. A lot of people don’t cash checks–they either operate in a cash economy or have automatic deposit. A lot of people can’t afford insurance, are on disability, etc. They might have an old ID that expired or something, but it’s just not always possible to get to a SOS and get an ID. It takes transportation and money. I used to do legal aid in Detroit and there were many, many senior citizens who just couldn’t do it .

  9. jean henry
    Posted December 1, 2016 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    Plenty of data on suppression effect. Many vetted and controlled studies.,amp.html?client=safari

  10. site admin
    Posted December 1, 2016 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    Need more facts, see the Saturday Six Pack interview with Keta Cowan of the Washtenaw ID Project.

  11. Morbid Larson
    Posted December 1, 2016 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    The last episode was never uploaded.

  12. Ryan Hughes
    Posted December 1, 2016 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    I just called all the republicans on the elections committee. They meet in 15 minutes, at 10:30. I got an answering machine everywhere except Rep Aric Nesbitt, 517-373-0839. Call him!

  13. Lawrence Kestenbaum by proxy
    Posted December 1, 2016 at 10:28 am | Permalink

    From Lawrence Kestenbaum, the Washtenaw County Clerk & Register of Deeds, on Facebook.

    “So, right when Michigan’s county and local clerks are busy preparing for the statewide presidential recount, the Legislature is rushing through a bill to change Michigan from a soft-ID to a hard-ID state, and make poor people go to absurd lengths to vote.”

  14. Jennifer Schlicht
    Posted December 1, 2016 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    Thanks for posting this, Mark. I called my Rep and Senator’s offices yesterday – woke up and found out about this as the committee hearing was happening. Rep. Roberts posted something yesterday about being told a child abuse law couldn’t possibly be passed before the end of the term… yet they can literally turn this around in the minimum required amount of hours.

  15. Jennifer Schlicht
    Posted December 1, 2016 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    And why pass a law to ‘correct’ a problem THAT SIMPLY DOES NOT EXIST? Best case scenario, lawmakers just don’t understand data and are being misled. Worst case, and I think this is probably more accurate, is that it’s a deliberate attempt at disenfranchisement.

    14 years.
    241 possibly fraudulent ballots — out of 1 billion cast.
    That’s 241/1000000000

  16. Julia Grover
    Posted December 1, 2016 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    Watching the committee right now online before their vote!

  17. Posted December 1, 2016 at 11:43 am | Permalink

    When I called Leutheuser’s office this morning the gentleman I spoke with seemed surprised to be hearing from anyone about it and also wasn’t sure if the committee was voting today or merely discussing… weird.

  18. Mr. X
    Posted December 1, 2016 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    Someone just told that, when the committee came back from break, they read comments, and one of them alluded to the fact that the Secretary of State had not yet been consulted on this. I guess that demonstrates just how much of a hurry they’re in, if they didn’t even discuss it with the Secretary of State that this new bill would drop the cost of IDs to $0, which, I’m guessing, would end up costing the state millions.

  19. Morbid Larson
    Posted December 1, 2016 at 1:21 pm | Permalink


  20. Rena Basch
    Posted December 1, 2016 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    As a Twp Clerk/Elections Admin I can’t freaking stand how the red herring “voter fraud” has become the liars’ battle charge to suppress participation in our democracy. Thank you Mark Maynard for putting some of the FACTS out there in this essay…. “a comprehensive investigation in 2014 found that, out of 1 billion votes cast in the United States, there were only 31 credible incidents of voter impersonation.” A whopping 0.0000031%

  21. Posted December 1, 2016 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    So what happened? Was there a vote? Has it left committee?

  22. Mr. X
    Posted December 1, 2016 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

    Lisa, I have it on good authority that the committee is in recess. So, for now, the members of the committee are just waiting to be called back in. As for when that will happen, they aren’t sure. It’s also unsure as to whether or not the bills will make it out of committee today. I suspect, however, they’ll try to get it out to the floor of the House soon for a vote.

  23. Mr. X
    Posted December 1, 2016 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

    Jeff Irwin posted the following 26 minutes ago: “We’re back in Elections, preparing to vote on a strict voter ID law that will turn away properly registered voters.”

  24. Posted December 1, 2016 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

    Gary, who has a comment higher up on this thread, and I had the following exchange on Facebook today. I think it illustrates just how difficult it is to talk about these things.

    GARY: This is a high priority. Let’s make sure that everyone who is voting has the property identification. I think we can agree we would insist on the same if someone was trying to access your bank account, claiming to be you.

    MARK: If you could show me evidence that there’s a huge problem when it comes to voter impersonation (tweets from Trump don’t count), I’d be happy to reconsider my position on this. I cannot, however, find any evidence that there is a problem.

    GARY: I repeat, is there evidence that someone is trying to get into your bank account? Maybe, maybe not. But, wouldn’t it be good to know that only you can and it can be confirmed. We don’t need evidence of a “huge” problem to prevent a problem from happening in the future. And again, what is everyone afraid of? There is no evidence that voter turnout will be suppressed.

    MARK: Gary, as a fiscal conservative, I’m curious what you think about the element of this bill that would make IDs free. Who pays for that? And why go to the expense, when, as others have pointed out, there’s no apparent problem?

    GARY: It is a small price to pay for the integrity of the election.

    MARK: So, without knowing how much it would cost, you’re saying that it’s a small price to pay?

    MARK: Just so I’m clear, you’re saying that you’re willing to pay any price to solve a problem that you can’t prove exists.

    GARY: Correct.

    MARK: Hard to have a conversation about the issue with someone who says facts be damned and money is no object.

    GARY: Well, that’s insulting. I haven’t once said facts be damned and that money is no object. I said I am happy to have the cost of the ID’s paid for if it protects the integrity of the election process. I think you are struggling with the fact I won’t agree with you. That is known as a differing opinion and where I come from they are healthy.

    MARK: Mark Maynard I wasn’t trying to be insulting. I’m just trying to figure out your argument here. You said that, no matter the price, you wanted to institute a program like the one being proposed, in spite of the fact that little evidence existed of a problem. Is that, or is that not your position? And, if that is your position, I’m curious how you defend it as a fiscal conservative.

    GARY: I said I think the cost of providing ID’s is well worth protecting the integrity of the election process. I continue to be mystified at what people who oppose this are afraid of? Don’t people who apply for government assistance need to provide some sort of documentation about who they are and why they need assistance? That would seem to be much more difficult than a simple ID to vote.

    MARK: Gary, there are studies that show up to 11% of Americans do not have valid, recognized IDs. If you read my post, there are links to some of those studies. At the same time, however, there’s no statistically significant evidence of voter impersonation. Again, it looks as though you’re trying to spend our hard earned tax dollars on a problem that does not exist. And, with all due respect, how anyone who says that they’re conservative could support legislation without first knowing what it would cost is beyond me

  25. Jean Henry
    Posted December 1, 2016 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

    Ha! Excellent.
    Post-fact Democracy.
    A reminder–because that’s my jam– that Gary’s behavior is not just present on the right. When the left wants something badly, it too denies or ignores inconvenient truths– especially economic costs. Hillary had policy plans with all the numbers worked out, with all best practices considered. She was unwilling this go around to sell what was not possible. We were told she had no vision and was inauthentic.

    I don’t know what the answer is when people stubbornly resist any information that disrupts their narrative. Maybe it means we need to start respecting the value of opposing viewpoints that are supported and informed as a means to vet our own. Crazy talk, I know. It’s possible that intense partisanship is a bigger problem for democracy than whoever any of us think the bad guys are. (Hard to say now that we have an actual bad guy in office, but I see Trump’s rise too as a logical extension of fundamentalist good side/bad side ideology on both sides.) At any rate, we will be getting a lot of lessons in the natural consequences of magical economic thinking over the next 4 years.

  26. Frosted Flakes
    Posted December 1, 2016 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

    I didn’t read any of the linked studies.

    I will read it if you guys can assure me that the conclusions of the study are as reliable as that awesome study, Mark liked so much, which concluded that less than 1 out of 500 welfare recipients in Tennessee are users of illegal drugs. Awesome information. Interesting narratives.

    A question on the side: How much do you guys think it would cost to have programs that gave free and accessible ID’s to the 11% that lack ID’s? A hundred trillion hard earned dollars? A buck per citizen?

  27. Morbid Larson
    Posted December 1, 2016 at 11:26 pm | Permalink

    How can you support a program and have no idea how much it costs or how to pay for it?

    That’s just irresponsible.

  28. Meta
    Posted December 2, 2016 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    It’s out of committee and they’ve designed it to be repeal-proof.

    “Stricter voter ID laws on fast track to pass in Legislature”

    Just two days after the bills were introduced, controversial and stricter voter identification laws moved quickly out of a House of Representatives committee Thursday afternoon.

    State Rep. Lisa Lyons, R-Alto, a term-limited state representative who won election Nov. 8 as the next Kent County Clerk, said she believes the integrity of elections needs to be strengthened, even though there have been only a handful of voter fraud cases brought in Michigan in the last several decades, according to the Secretary of State.

    Her bills would require that legally registered voters who forget their photo identification on election day to vote a provisional ballot. That ballot would be set aside and not counted until the person provided their identification within 10 days after an election at their local clerk’s office. Currently, a legally registered voter who forgets their ID signs an affidavit swearing that they are who they say they are and their vote is counted on election day. More than 18,000 people who forgot their ID signed affidavits and voted on Nov. 8.

    “Do I think voting irregularities happen whether they’re nefarious or not, Yes I do,” she said. “But we don’t know to what extent.”

    Democrats voted against the legislation, saying it will end up putting additional barriers to voting, especially to vulnerable populations, such as poor people who may have limited access to transportation, the disabled and homeless people. They tried to add amendments to the legislation that would provide better accommodations for disabled people, residents of rural areas where clerks’ offices are only open a few hours a week, people whose identification has been lost, stolen or mutilated near the time of an election. They also wanted to expand the types of identification that could be used to vote, including a concealed weapons permit or a library card that has a photo on it. But all the amendments failed.

    The one amendment that did pass was a $10 million appropriation that was tacked on to the bill to provide for education for clerks’ offices, but it also makes the bill immune from a voter referendum or repeal.

    Read more:

  29. Meta
    Posted December 2, 2016 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

    Posthumus Lyons is on a roll. Now she’s trying to stop the recount.

    Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein’s desired hand recount of Michigan’s presidential election results hasn’t even started, and a Republican state lawmaker is trying to make her pay the full tab.

    As required by law, Stein paid $973,250 Wednesday for a hand recount of 4.8 million ballots that Secretary of State Ruth Johnson estimates will cost at least $5 million to administer.

    State Rep. Lisa Posthumus Lyons, R-Alto, introduced legislation Thursday that seeks to create a retroactive law requiring candidates who finish more than 5 percent behind the declared winner in an election to pay the full cost of a recount.

    Read more:

  30. Posted December 2, 2016 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

    Someone on Facebook, quoting this post, just asked State Rep Jeff Irwin about instances where people had to pay in order to obtain documentation from out of state. Here’s his response.

    GREG: Mark Maynard asks a very important question: “What happens when someone living here in Michigan wasn’t born here, and needs to acquire a birth certificate from out-of-state in order to attain a state issued ID? Will the state be reimbursing people if fees are involved? And, if not, wouldn’t that constitute a poll tax?”

    JEFF: I think so, but there is language in 6067 and 6068 allowing exceptions for missing or non-existent documentation. Overcoming this barrier will be costly in some cases (some people have to go to court to obtain birth records for instance).

  31. Meta
    Posted December 6, 2016 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    Another piece of pending legislation to be aware of. Senate Bill 638 is “Citizens United on steroids”.

    Citizens United is the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision that permits corporations or unions to spend as much money as they want to convince voters to vote for or against a candidate.

    A Bloomberg Politics poll last year found 78% of the people who were asked think this decision wasn’t good for the country and should be overturned.

    That hasn’t stopped progress on a state bill that’s similar to Citizens United that’s been passed by the Michigan Senate and is on track to get through the House, likely during this lame duck session.

    Craig Mauger of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network wrote in an op-ed in the Detroit Free Press that Senate Bill 638 is “Citizens United on steroids”. He joined Stateside to talk about what this bill means for Michigan and why it’s worse than the original Citizens United ruling.

    Read more:

4 Trackbacks

  1. By How to survive in a world without facts on December 2, 2016 at 10:57 am

    […] 3. No matter how tiring it becomes, I’m going to try my best to keep engaged with people who don’t share my appreciation for objective truth. [Here, if you’re interested, is an example from earlier today.] […]

  2. […] to State Rep Jeff Irwin, whom I just traded emails with, it looks as though the controversial Voter ID law being pushed through the Michigan House this lame duck session by Rep…, will be coming up for a vote tomorrow. Given that the House is currently divided 63 to 46, with […]

  3. […] how I was telling you last week that you really needed to call your State Reps because Republicans were trying to push aggressive, new voter suppression laws through the Michigan House? Well, last night, at 10:00 PM, the Michigan House of Representatives voted 57-50 to approve the […]

  4. […] If we’re to believe Republican Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof, it looks as though the Michigan Senate will not be voting on the controversial voter ID law that passed the House last week. According to Meekhof, Senate Republicans just didn’t have the time during the lame duck session, which adjourns for the year this Thursday. The following comes by way of a report just posted by the Detroit News. […]

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