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In a major upset for the Republican effort to curtail voting, Governor Rick Snyder vetoed a new law that would have expanded Michigan’s existing voter ID laws.
Michigan’s existing law allows voters to sign an affidavit if they do not have photo ID when they vote. The new law would have required a photo ID, even for absentee voting, require “affirmation” of citizenship before receiving ballots and mandate state training for those registering new voters.
Snyder has signed a number of voting laws, covering documentation of campaign funding, monitoring by the courts of voter status and bars on using campaign funds for legal expenses not relating to running for office. But he drew the line at having to set up state programs to train the League of Women Voters how to do what they have done for generations, or force those living outside the state to provide photo ID. Can you imagine a group of Michigan National Guardsmen or military personnel from Michigan lined up to photocopy their IDs to send along with their absentee ballots? One of the primary objections to photo IDs involves the elderly, who often have surrendered their drivers licenses. Imagine the residents of a nursing home having to be driven to the DMV to get IDs, and then all of them having to have those IDs photocopied to put in their absentee ballots. Using absentee ballots is common in elderly housing facilities of all kinds.
Snyder did what other Republican governors have not done. He looked at the reality of the alleged epidemic of voter fraud and decided the laws addressed a problem that didn’t exist. It’s one of the few really good things he’s done in his term. Republican House Speaker Jase Bolger’s spokeman, Ari Adler, issued a statement saying that Bolger was “deeply disappointed in the vetoes of other very reasonable reforms designed to protect the integrity of one of the most sacred rights in the United States. Eligible voters need to know that their votes count and will not be canceled out by others who are ineligible to vote.”
Nearly 1,000 voter identification bills have been put forward in 46 states since 2001. The first were passed in Alabama, Colorado, Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota in 2003. Since the Republicans swept to power in 2010 in so many state governments, the pace of voter ID laws has steamrolled, along with the allegation that President Obama was elected by illegal immigrants, millions of dead people and double-voters. The combination of denying students the ability to vote at their colleges, requiring photo ID and the closure or reduction of operating times for DMV offices has raised reasonable questions about these laws being designed to limit voting by traditionally Democratic demographics.