Demand the Voter Bill of Rights over voter suppression

votingrights3

According 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 Republican lawmakers, will be coming up for a vote tomorrow – Wednesday, December 7 – Pearl Harbor Day. Given that the House is currently divided 63 to 46, with Republicans having a 17 vote advantage, I’m not holding out much hope that the body will do the right thing, but, as I suppose there’s still a chance, I wanted to share this Detroit News op-ed by Irwin and his fellow State Reps Gretchen Driskell and Jon Hoadley, all of whom serve on the House Elections Committee. If you should feel so inclined, after reading what they have to say about why these proposed voter suppression bills [HB 6066, 6067, and 6068] are bad for Michigan, and why we should instead be enacting laws to increase participation, please call your elected officials, especially if you live in Republican districts, and demand that they vote no… Or, better yet, demand that they instead support the Voter Bill of Rights package sponsored by Driskell and Hoadley, that would increase, rather than limit, participation in the democratic process… Here’s the op-ed.

As we continue to analyze this year’s unconventional election, two things have become very clear: Michiganians are concerned about the integrity of our elections, and voters want their voices to be heard in our democracy. A package of bills in the Michigan Legislature claims to be addressing those concerns.

Don’t be fooled.

The House Committee on Elections, on which we sit, held a hearing on House Bills 6066, 6067, and 6068 on the morning of Nov. 30, just hours after they were introduced and made available to the public the previous evening.

The bills would require voters who do not bring a photo ID to their polling place on Election Day to vote with a provisional ballot. Their ballot would only be counted if the voter then returned to their clerk with valid photo ID within 10 days.

This is an attack on our freedom disguised as an appeal to security.

Having to show additional identification at the polls is a duplicative requirement. The fact is that these voters have already proven their identity in the past. Requiring voters who lost, forgot, or otherwise don’t currently have an ID to prove their innocence while assuming their guilt is an insult to our rule of law.

Furthermore, forcing working mothers and fathers, disabled voters, elderly voters, sick voters, impoverished voters, and other vulnerable citizens to jump through extra hoops, while other voters do not, is discrimination, plain and simple.

If the Michigan Legislature really wanted to make our elections secure, accurate, and modern, they would have passed the Voter Bill of Rights, a joint resolution we introduced in July of this year. The resolution would give voters the opportunity to add the Voter Bill of Rights to the Michigan Constitution, ensuring that every citizen who is a Michigan resident and is of voting age has the right to:

■ Vote a secret ballot;

■ If serving in the military or living overseas, have an absentee ballot sent at least 45 days before the election to ensure he/she has adequate time to send it back;

■ Remain registered wherever he/she resides in Michigan;

■ Be automatically registered to vote while conducting other business (such as driver’s license renewal) with the Secretary of State;

■ Register to vote in person or by mail up to 15 days before the election;

■ Vote by absentee ballot in person for at least 15 days before an election;

■ Vote by absentee ballot without giving a reason.

Thirty-four states and the District of Columbia offer in-person early voting. Twenty-seven states and D.C. offer no-reason absentee voting. If we really want to ensure the integrity of our elections — to make sure they are safe, secure and accurate — we should modernize our voting systems. We shouldn’t be putting up barriers to our voting rights as the recent package of bills does.

As we discussed a few days ago, these three Republican bills being forced through the Michigan House are essentially an expensive solution in search of a problem. The Republican supporters of the legislation tell us that it’s necessary to pass these laws in order to decrease incidents of voter impersonation. The only problem is, they can’t present evidence showing that voter impersonation really even happens in Michigan. [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, perhaps just as importantly, they haven’t shown, at least to my knowledge, how they’d pay to enact the legislation, if it should pass. [As I understand it, if these three bills pass, we’ll have to offer State IDs for free, as well as help subsidize the acquisition of birth certificates and other official documentation required to obtain a Michigan ID, as not doing so would render the legislation unconstitutional, as American citizens cannot, under the Constitution, be forced to expend any money in order to vote, as doing so would be considered a poll tax.] No, this is nothing more than straight-up voter suppression, the likes of which we’re seeing pushed in every Republican held statehouse across the land right now, in hopes of further gutting the Voting Rights Act and driving down the participation of the poor and the marginalized.

Here, in case you missed my last post on HB 6066, is how I summed things up before asking people to call their State Reps.

…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…

Now call your State Reps and demand that they vote against 6066 on Wednesday, and start lobbying on behalf of the Voter Bill of Rights instead.

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32 Comments

  1. Maria E. Huffman
    Posted December 7, 2016 at 12:08 am | Permalink

    That is a very weird thing that they are doing.
    Is it voter suppression? I think it is voter intimidation. Much more that than just voter suppression.

  2. Maria E. Huffman
    Posted December 7, 2016 at 12:17 am | Permalink

    You would think they would just buy facial recognition scans and cut out the middle man of having a picture taken at the Secretary of State’s office. Maybe they do that as well…
    We have the weirdest state government…
    Every time I go the application to apply is a little different. I think, how is that hard for them?
    I think, as my number said out loud and the person next to the person swiping my driver’s license..that now, my ballot is no longer secret. I long since gave up on thinking there is voter fraud, what I think the problem is that there is no privacy or true secret ballot…Big brother at Lansing knows exactly how we all vote, every election…is what I think happens. I have very, very little faith in the state government behaving honorably. And with good reason. I watched when RTW passed, I was watching on cable. It took about 45 minutes to ruin our country with that event.

  3. Maria E. Huffman
    Posted December 7, 2016 at 12:24 am | Permalink

    I often think , where is the federal government and why are they allowing Rick Snyder and company to ruin this state?. The last thing I read that was a terrible idea, yet again… is the three lanes on US 23… highways need shoulders… not that the shoulders of our highways are in anyway clear of debris anyway these days…I am very disappointed in Governor Snyder.

  4. Maria E. Huffman
    Posted December 7, 2016 at 12:28 am | Permalink

    I am not just writing that..Legislators microphones were cut off.. one bill was replaced, rapidly and almost surreptitously with the other bill, that was then voted on. The doors were shut and the place was not open to the public. Who does things like that?
    Cut the mikes, lock the doors, swap the bills presented to vote on..
    no way to run a legislative session..yet that is how it was done… terrible, just terrible.
    I really thought Brian Calley should have resigned in protest, after that.

  5. Maria E. Huffman
    Posted December 7, 2016 at 12:33 am | Permalink

    I cant even read what EOS and Frosted Flakes and Jean Henry are writing today.. FF is quite pissed off Iwould surmise.
    Who is EOS?
    I think he/she it they should state who they are and where they live…and then continue to blog on here.
    Because you can’t assume it is only one person who writes EOS’s posts or Frosted Flakes..it is the internet after all.

  6. Morbid Larson
    Posted December 7, 2016 at 1:28 am | Permalink

    This is a great idea, reduce voter participation and spend more public money. Republicans at work.

    What is an even better idea is wasting the time of the judiciary.

    Cut and paste. Cut and paste. Boring.

  7. jean henry
    Posted December 7, 2016 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    Since the constitution is protected by the judiciary, and the constitution was designed to resist tyranny, the first defense against totalitarian creep is the judiciary. Although in MI now the judges are nominated by the parties but elections are non partisan technically. Redistricting and GOP alignment mean most of our high court judges are Conservative and do the bidding mostly if the party. Federal courts were a check on that, but that check is eroding under Trump too. The GOP don’t know how to run anything but they are experts at the slow accrual of institutional power from the local level up.
    It’s going to be very hard to stop them until they really hurt us all enough to notice. It seemed we were there this year but apparently not. Obama is starting to look like a bandaid on an arterial wound in our democracy.

  8. Ryan Hughes
    Posted December 7, 2016 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    Here’s the phonebanking that’s going on. But don’t feel like you have to wait until one of those sessions – you can call reps any time!

    http://michiganorganizer.info/content/phonebanking-against-lame-duck-sessions-voter-suppression-and-anti-teacher-pension-bills

    But if they’re going up for vote today, there’s no time to wait for the next session. Call now!

  9. Kat
    Posted December 7, 2016 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    From at article in the Detroit Free Press this past summer on Voter ID laws. (http://www.freep.com/story/opinion/columnists/stephen-henderson/2016/08/06/voter-id-jim-crow/88279764/)

    But even today, the efforts to erect barriers — neutral in name and description, but likely discriminatory in practice and effect — are still with us.

    The latest?

    A stunning rebuke of the North Carolina Legislature by the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., absolutely unmasked the ruse of Voter ID laws, pushed by conservatives in recent years as a way to prevent “voter fraud,” a mythical issue ginned up to raise the specter of mass-scale vote stealing

    Not only did the 4th Circuit say the North Carolina law would disproportionately affect African Americans — it demonstrated, through pages of explication, disenfranchisement of blacks was the very goal of the legislation.

    The legislature, in drawing up the law, researched data that showed how frequently African Americans used certain voting practices. Then lawmakers wrote the law in a way that trashed the practices that were used more by blacks than anyone else. Importantly, North Carolina had adopted laws in recent years to boost dismal rates of black balloting — permitting people to vote at places closer to home if precincts were too far away, expanding early voting and enabling same-day voter registration. All led to increased voting among African Americans.

    The more recent law clamped down on those procedures.

    The changes, the appeals court said, “target African Americans with almost surgical precision,” and “impose cures for problems that don’t exist.”

    The court demurred when it came time to assign racist motivation to the lawmakers’ actions, saying, essentially, it couldn’t know what was in legislators’ hearts.

    But the court devastated the North Carolina legislature, and others pursuing similar laws.

    The court said the totality of the circumstances had to be considered. And given North Carolina’s history of racial discrimination, the recent surge in black voting, and the elimination of the voting features that had led to the voting increase, the legislature acted in a discriminatory manner toward black voters.

    That’s important. It draws a direct line between the naked racism of Jim Crow-era voting restrictions and the more subtle language used today to describe efforts to “stop voter fraud” and other nonsensical justifications for restricting ballot access.

    Nearly every study done on voter fraud has concluded that while not perfect, current laws make actual cases of fraud terribly difficult, and rare as a result. Even miscreant activists willing to walk right up to the line of committing voter fraud have not been able to cast fake ballots (which would lead to prosecution), let alone have those fraudulent votes count.

    And so the weight of history, the awful centuries this nation spent denying the franchise on the basis of race — they matter more than the phony specter of voter fraud. They compel us — morally, and, in the case of North Carolina, constitutionally — to err on the side of voter access, rather than voter restriction.

    The cycle of our awful history is visiting with us again. And the decision in North Carolina challenges us to speak back to it, with the context and clarity that exposes it as a bigoted threat.

    For a second, let’s go back to my father, the Korean War vet denied the right to vote in his home state of Mississippi.

    This isn’t some distant relative I read about in a history book.

    He was the first man I knew, the person who helped teach me about fairness and injustice, and the indelicate American balance between the two.

    When I vote, it’s partially in his stead and with his voice. It’s a sign of the progress we’ve made as a nation, since the days when skin color determined far more than it does today.

    It is a break in the cycle that we should celebrate with wider voter access — not a return to capricious restrictions that amount to racial discrimination.

  10. Jeff Irwin by proxy
    Posted December 7, 2016 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    “I’m putting up amendments and making as much of a fuss as I can.”

  11. AD
    Posted December 7, 2016 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    I was on the phone for over 10 minuets with an individual from the office of Michigan State Representatives for district 46. I was a bit annoyed that I the individual who took my call was trying to convince me that these were good laws, especially since I asked a question directly about the Voter Bill of Rights (Joint House Resolution PP).

  12. Eel
    Posted December 7, 2016 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    To all the white women who put Trump in office, I give you this from the Washington Post…..

    “Empowered by Trump, Ohio legislature passes ‘heartbeat’ bill that would ban most abortions”

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2016/12/07/empowered-by-trump-ohio-legislature-pass-heartbeat-bill-that-would-ban-most-abortions

  13. Lynne
    Posted December 7, 2016 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

    I have made my calls. Thanks!

  14. Jcp2
    Posted December 7, 2016 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    Meanwhile,

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/eriksherman/2016/12/07/amazons-grocery-would-eliminate-thousands-of-jobs/#63f6e6ad36d9

  15. jean henry
    Posted December 7, 2016 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    Jcp2– wait till they see how many errors are made by scanning technology. If losses are big enough they’ll go back to clerks or create jobs in fixing errors.

  16. Jcp2
    Posted December 7, 2016 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

    https://www.wired.com/2016/12/amazon-go-grocery-store/

    https://www.wired.com/2016/12/trump-cant-deliver-rust-belt-jobs-work-changed/

  17. M
    Posted December 7, 2016 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

    Te vote didn’t happen today. It’ll happen tomorrow.

  18. Posted December 7, 2016 at 10:50 pm | Permalink

    It looks like the vote is happening tonight. Jeff Irwin posted the following to Facebook about 45 minutes ago:

    “Right now, we are preparing to vote on a strict voter ID law that will disenfranchise thousands of voters who will have to spend money to obtain acceptable identification or who simply forget their ID.”

  19. Posted December 7, 2016 at 10:51 pm | Permalink

    OK, it apparently passed.

  20. Posted December 7, 2016 at 10:53 pm | Permalink

    Adam Zemke posted the following after it passed.

    At 10 PM tonight, House Republicans passed #HB6066. This bill essentially amounts to a #PollTax, financially disenfranchising and depriving Michiganders from their constitutional right to #vote by essentially eliminating the right to sign an affidavit of identity at the polls.

    I think some of the best examples of why this is terrible legislation came in very different ways from very different areas of the state. Representative Fred Durhal III from Detroit beautifully outlined how inaccessible getting to a polling place already is in his community, a community that was repeatedly referenced as a direct target of discriminatory voter disenfranchisement by this bill.

    And Representative Ed McBroom from the western UP talked about how he often goes to vote immediately after working on his farm, wherein driving his tractor, he often doesn’t carry his driver’s license…because it’s not required. Under this bill, he would not be able to go straight to his polling place to vote, or if he did, he would have to go back home, pick up his license, and repeat the process.

    HB 6066 essentially turns Michigan from a “shall have” right to vote state to a “may have” right to vote state. #disgraceful #mileg #lameduck

  21. Morbid Larson
    Posted December 8, 2016 at 5:43 am | Permalink

    See?

    Just give up. Your efforts are pointless. Give in and accept that the US is now governed by the descendants of Rush Limbaugh.

  22. Jcp2
    Posted December 8, 2016 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    Maybe Trump is riding the stock market rally, tweeting recklessly, right before he sells off and leaves office either voluntarily or involuntarily. Notice how level headed Pence seems. Dow 20,000!

  23. Posted December 8, 2016 at 7:23 am | Permalink

    HB 6066 passed the House 57 – 50, so some Republicans apparently did the right thing.

  24. Demetrius
    Posted December 8, 2016 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    Apparently our lame-duck legislature was really busy last night …

    Detroit Free Press: LANSING — The Michigan House of Representatives passed a pair of anti-union bills Wednesday night that make it harder for workers and unions to picket and easier for employers to hire workers to replace striking employees.

    One bill would increase fines against picketers to $1,000 per person per day of a picket and $10,000 per day for an organization or union involved in the picket that is deemed to be an illegal mass picket. That bill passed on a mostly party-line vote of 57-50.

    The other would repeal a law that requires employers to include information about an ongoing strike when they advertise to hire employees who will replace existing, but striking employees at a company. That bill passed on a vote of 59-48 on a mostly party line vote.

    Democrats said the bill was an affront to peaceful protests and would allow companies to file complaints about pickets without showing any actual harm was done to their business. …

    http://www.freep.com/story/news/politics/2016/12/07/anti-union-bills-pass-michigan-house-representatives/95122178/

  25. Lynne
    Posted December 8, 2016 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    I am hoping that anti-protest one will convince certain very left wing people that voting is as important as protesting. No, more so. We are in the situation because people who should care about things like this don’t always vote and especially don’t vote in smaller elections. They are going to get screwed over by these laws but non voters kind of have it coming imho.

  26. greater734
    Posted December 8, 2016 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    How are we supposed to square this Voter ID law — aimed to prevent voter fraud — with the federal judge’s decision to dismiss the Stein recount effort in Michigan because there is no evidence of voter fraud?

  27. Morbid Larson
    Posted December 8, 2016 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    Give up.

    The US is now Breitbart nation.

  28. jean henry
    Posted December 8, 2016 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    Jcp2– trump unloaded his limited stock holdings in June. His investments are in global real estate. His income is provided mostly by the Trump brand.

  29. jean henry
    Posted December 8, 2016 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    Re-districting reform is the key to escaping totalitarian creep. We don’t actually need more votes; we need our votes to count equally.

  30. EOS
    Posted December 8, 2016 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

    Redistricting has zero impact on a vote that allocates electoral votes statewide.

  31. jean henry
    Posted December 8, 2016 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

    Was talking about state races EOS. Again Dems won popular vote but lost seats.

  32. Somebody
    Posted December 8, 2016 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

    EOS I’ve been reading Breitbart. Can you explain how Milo fits in this whole family values, Trump, make America great thing?

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  1. […] passionate about at the moment, as it’s somewhat abstract, and not as immediate as, say, an attempt to sneak voter suppression laws through the state legislature during a lame duck session, or an announcement by the President-elect that he’ll be giving a white supremacist an office […]

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