Senate OKs bills requiring photo ID to register to vote
By Karen Bouffard
Detroit News Lansing Bureau
Lansing— Citizens will be required to show a photo ID when registering to vote under a package of bills that passed over Democrats' objections in the state Senate on Tuesday.
The package also would require volunteers to complete training before working in voter registration drives and those applying to vote would be required to affirm they are U.S. citizens.
Most of the bills passed 26-12 along party lines with all of the chambers' Democrats voting in opposition.
Many of the reforms were proposed last year by Republican Secretary of State Ruth Johnson, according to Sen. David Robertson, R-Grand Blanc, chair of the Local Government and Elections Committee.
"The aim is to respect the integrity of our elections, and maintain proper means of transparency, all of the things that are at the heart of the public's trust in the election process," Robertson said. "We don't ask much of (voters) — that they register and be who they say they are."
Voters already must show a photo ID at their polling place to be able to vote.
The package also contains campaign finance reforms and bans on public employee payroll deductions for contributions to political action committees and campaign committees.
Critics, including the Michigan League of Women voters, AARP Michigan and the American Civil Liberties Union, said the bills would discourage voter participation.
"Nearly one in five people age 65 or older don't have photo ID," says Jacqueline Morrison, state director of AARP Michigan, said in a press release before the vote. "People who have been voting all of their adult life will face this hurdle if the legislation passes."
Sen. Coleman Young, D-Detroit, said the new requirements will discourage people from organizing voter registration drives and cut down on the number who register to vote. He said Florida passed similar reforms that are now being challenged in court.
"We are missing an extraordinary opportunity to make our voting system simpler and better," Young said following voting on the reforms. "This is a package of bills that thrusts government over the people."
Most of the bills are headed to the House for consideration.
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