Michigan Democrats on Tuesday blasted Secretary of State Ruth Johnson, claiming she neglected her duties in administering Michigan’s primary elections.
“Ruth Johnson has completely fallen down on the job based on her performance in this primary election,” Michigan Democratic Party Chair Mark Brewer said.
Johnson added a question to the February presidential primary election ballot requiring voters to affirm their U.S. citizenship. The state legislature later approved a bill that would have made the citizenship declaration a state law. But Republican Gov. Rick Snyder vetoed the legislation, saying it would confuse voters.
However, the question has remained on the ballots.
“The secretary has the authority to prescribe forms, including ballot application forms. She put that check box on the ballot application,” secretary of state spokesman Fred Woodhams told the Associated Press. “Up until a few years ago, the secretary of state wasn’t able to track citizenship. Maybe there was a language barrier, but some non-citizens were asked if they were ready to vote.”
The citizenship question has reportedly caused confusion at a number of polling places in Michigan, according to The Detroit News and Detroit Free Press. Both Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights and Project Vote said they had received numerous complaints of people being turned away from the polls for refusing to answer the question.
Just before noon, the secretary of state sent out a clarification to election officials, telling them not to enforce the citizenship declaration question. But Democrats said the clarification came too late for many voters.
“We also saw that her insistence in putting a citizenship checkbox on ballot applications — despite Governor Snyder’s veto — caused mass voter confusion,” Brewer said. “That confusion was compounded by her office issuing a directive telling clerks not to issue ballots on Monday and then finally issuing the correct instruction today. That’s a recipe for disaster on Election Day.”
“It’s time for Ruth Johnson to give up the ghost and focus on her job requirements: making sure Michigan’s elections run smoothly and every eligible voter that shows up to the polls is able to vote. Her pointless obsession with voter fraud is clearly affecting her performance as Secretary of State and Michigan’s elections as a result.”
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