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Board of State Canvassers to meet again, vote on form of petition critics say would make it harder to cast a ballot in Michigan

Linda Stephan
The initiative would require voters to show a photo I-D to vote in person and get rid of an exemption for voters without photo I-Ds.

The Board of State Canvassers is meeting again Monday to consider a re-printed version of a petition to tighten Michigan’s voter ID laws. If the form is approved, backers say they plan to start signature gathering within two weeks.

While the Board of State Canvassers voted to approve the summary of purpose for the initiative Thursday, typos on the petition itself delayed the approval of the form itself.

The measure would require voters to give the last four digits of their social security number to register. It would also eliminate the ability for voters without an ID to cast a ballot by signing an affidavit.

Board of State Canvassers vice-chair Julie Matuzak said it’s important to let potential signers to know that at the top of the petition in the 100-word summary.

“This proposal says if you don’t have your ID, you have to cast a provisional ballot. And if you don’t show up at your clerk’s office within six days, your vote’s not going to count. And that’s disenfranchising people,” Matuzak said.

The petition, brought by the group Secure MI Vote, echoes GOP-backed legislation brought up earlier this year.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer said she would veto any bills she believes made it harder for Michiganders to vote. However, this process would circumvent the need for her signature, if the petition garners enough signatures, and if the Legislature then approves it, due to a loophole in the state Constitution.

That led several speakers during the meeting to voice concerns that the measure itself would likely never reach a ballot.

Secure MI Vote spokesperson Jamie Roe said he doesn’t see an issue with that process.

"This is the system that’s prescribed in the Michigan Constitution. If there’s an issue with the process, their issue is with the Michigan Constitution,” Roe said.

He’s casting doubt the petition would take effect before the 2022 general election, even if the legislature adopted it before then, while dismissing criticism.

“Any time you have a security reform, some people on the left … always object and they say it’s to repress the vote,” Roe said.

The group Progress Michigan is among those opposing the petition. Spokesperson Sam Inglot indicated after the meeting that they are considering several ways to challenge the initiative.

“There is education and public accountability. There are legal avenues—counter petitions, legal stuff,” Inglot said.

For its petition to reach the Legislature, Secure MI Vote would need to gather a minimum of 340,047 signatures.