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Ruth Johnson Sued Over Citizenship Box on Voter Forms

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Kevin Rosseel

A coalition of unions, voters, county clerks and civil rights groups is suing Secretary of State Ruth Johnson in federal court. The lawsuit challenges Johnson’s instruction that voters who show up on Election Day should be asked whether they are U.S. citizens.

Some local clerks have refused to put the citizenship question on Election Day ballot applications. Governor Rick Snyder this year vetoed a bill to require the question. Ruth Johnson said it would remain as a reminder that only U.S. citizens can vote – even though no one can be denied a ballot for refusing to check the citizenship box.

Ingham County Clerk Mike Bryanton says the result has been confusion and, in some cases, people who have a right to vote being scared away from the polls. 

“We need clarification," he says. "Either the check box is legal, or it’s not. We believe it’s not legal, it’s not appropriate.”

Bryanton says it’s enough to ask people to affirm their citizenship when they first register. Local clerks hope for a ruling quickly so they can prepare for the November election.

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