Despite objections of voter suppression from Democrats, Michigan legislators passed a stringent voter identification bill on December 7.
Under the measure, voters in the state who do not bring proper photo ID to the polls would be able to cast provisional ballots under the condition that they visit their local clerk’s office with ID within 10 days of an election, or else their votes would not be counted, reports the Detroit News.
“This legislation is simple: In order to have your vote count, you must prove you are who you say you are,” said the bill’s sponsor, Republican State Rep. Lisa Lyons, who chairs the House Elections Committee, according to the Detroit News.
Currently, registered voters may cast a ballot without providing photo ID, provided that they sign an affidavit at the polls swearing that their identity is correct. In the Nov. 8 general election, more than 18,000 residents opted for signing an affidavit over showing photo identification.
Lyons said that the new law will “deter and detect fraud, however widespread it may or may not be.” Democrats who opposed the bill argued that there is no proof of any instances of voter fraud in that election in the state, where Donald Trump won by fewer than 11,000 votes, according to the New York Times.
“This bill will suppress the votes of those for whom voting is already a struggle,” said Democratic State Rep. Fred Durhal III, notes the Detroit News.
Michigan’s Republican Secretary of State Ruth Johnson’s office stated that there are no known cases of voter fraud from those who signed affidavits. Her office is reviewing the voter ID bill and has not directly commented on it.
Democratic State Rep. Jeff Irwin said that the strict ID law accounts to a “modern-day poll tax.”
“This is going to cause confusion and chaos at the polls,” Irwin added. “There’s going to be arguments, voters aren’t going to understand, and long lines are going to get even longer. Maybe that’s the point.”
The bill also included a measure to make obtaining state ID cards more accessible and included a provision to offer free state ID cards to Michiganders with low incomes.
“We want everyone to be able to vote easily, but we want them to know their vote is being protected,” said Lyons.
Sources: Detroit News, New York Times / Photo Credit: Alex Lee/Wikimedia Commons