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'Secure MI Vote' submits signatures for petition initiative to strengthen voter ID laws

voting sign with an American flag that reads "Vote Here Today"
Reginald Hardwick

A group working to tighten Michigan’s voter ID laws has filed more 514,000 petition signatures for the 2024 election cycle. That’s according to the committee behind the proposed ballot question, Secure MI Vote.

If the initiative is successful, the state would require photo IDs to vote in person and either a photo ID or a partial social security number to apply to vote absentee.

The current system allows voters without an ID to sign a written affidavit to be able to cast ballots. Secure MI Vote spokesperson Jamie Roe said that leaves room for fraud.

“I hope it rarely ever happens, but the fact of the matter is it should never happen,” Roe said. “If our proposal is made law, it would not be allowed to happen.”

Voter fraud is already a felony in Michigan and the attorney general has prosecuted people accordingly.

Though Secure MI Vote is turning in its signatures for a question on the 2024 ballot, it’s unlikely the proposal would ever go before voters. If the signatures hold up, a Republican-controlled legislature could adopt the changes into law before the election.

State Sen. Tom Barrett (R-Charlotte) said he hopes elections staff will review the signatures quickly.

“We’ve tried different mechanisms to make sure that if the people submit circulated petitions or initiated legislation, for constitutional amendments or otherwise, that there’s at least a timely resolution to that. That shouldn’t sit here in limbo forever,” Barrett said.

In June, Secure MI Vote missed the deadline to turn in signatures in time for this year’s election. The committee's leaders reasoned they wanted more time to make sure the signatures they did collect would stand up to scrutiny.

While they submitted more signatures than the required 340,047, the late submission no longer means the Bureau of Elections has a timely deadline to check the signatures.

Meanwhile, a proposed constitutional amendment from the group Promote the Vote is in direct contrast to the voting restrictions in Secure MI Vote's proposed initiative. That amendment campaign is awaiting a review of its signatures to see if it will make the 2022 ballot.

That proposal aims to expand voter access through things like an early in-person voting period and protections of the right to vote through a signed affidavit. The amendment would make the Secure MI Vote initiative moot, if voters approve it in November.

Secure MI Vote executive director Jeff Litten is pledging a “significant 'no' campaign” against the amendment.

“Once you tell people what’s in it, they’re going to vote 'no.' It’s clear and simple,” Litten told reporters Friday.

The competition between efforts is not new. Nancy Wang, of the group Voters Not Politicians, helped support the Promote the Vote amendment.

Secure MI Vote is "turning in signatures not to qualify for the 2022 ballot – because they have missed the deadline to do that – but to put these measures to the state legislature to pass veto-proof legislation that will undermine our democracy,” Wang said in a written statement.

Though the fate of either effort has yet to be determined, legislative Republicans have said the fight over voter ID requirements won’t stop even if the amendment passes.

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