Michigan governor slaps down Republican voter restrictions
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) issued three vetos on Tuesday that effectively killed his own party’s plans to drive down the number of voters in the state in time for the 2012 presidential election.
While the governor signed most of the election reform bills sent to him by his fellow Republicans, Senate Bills 754 and 803, along with House Bill 5061, did not make the cut. Those bills sought to require that voters present proof of citizenship at the polls, require voter registration training for third party groups and require a photo identification be presented before picking up an absentee ballot.
In a release, Snyder said he believes the bills would have stifled voter registration efforts and created confusion as to who is and is not eligible to vote. Gov. Snyder had only vetoed three other bills before Tuesday since he took office in 2011.
Republicans in numerous states have claimed in recent years voter ID laws are necessary to prevent a widespread campaign of criminal voter fraud, but there is no evidence of such a plot against American elections.
Instead, voter ID laws have been empirically demonstrated to drive down the number of votes (PDF) cast for Democrats by minorities, students, the poor and the elderly, who are less likely to carry a photo ID than demographics that trend conservative. That may explain why voter ID laws have been shopped in numerous states by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a little known conservative lobbying group funded by wealthy interests, which purports to write bills for lawmakers.
A similar law in Pennsylvania was recently targeted by an American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) lawsuit after a 93-year-old grandmother was denied a government-issued photo ID, rendering her unable to vote. Pennsylvania House Majority Leader Mike Turzai (R) later declared that the law “is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state” in November.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, as well, has placed Republicans’ voter restrictions squarely in his sights this year, and the department announced last week that South Carolina’s voter ID does not meet the requirements of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and must be terminated.