LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — A voter identification bill introduced in the Michigan Legislature’s lame-duck session is stirring controversy.
The legislation is sponsored by Rep. Lisa Posthumus Lyons, R-Alto, who is going to be the next Kent County Clerk.
Posthumus Lyons says the bill is to help secure elections, making sure the system isn’t flawed. But some opponents feel this is just a move to make it more difficult for certain groups to vote.
“Tens of thousands of individuals cast a ballot this election without proving their identity. That means we don’t know if those people who cast their ballots were legally allowed to vote,” Posthumus Lyons said.
Posthumus Lyons is heading a bill that she says would strengthen the system to verify each voter.
Under Posthumus Lyons’ legislation, voters would be required to present an ID at their polling place but if they don’t have it, they must sign an affidavit attesting they are who they say they are when they casted their vote.
“That ballot is not counted until that voter goes to the clerks and presents a valid ID to prove their identity,” Posthumus Lyons said.
They would have 10 days to do this or their vote doesn’t count.
“These bills really are just trying to make it slightly more difficult in a very targeted way to keep some people from the polls,” state Rep. Jon Hoadley, D-Kalamazoo, said.
Hoadley questions whether the package of bills is even constitutional.
He says it will complicate an already intimidating process for young people, the elderly and people living in metropolitan areas who never had to get a driver’s license.
“What we’re doing here is saying that for folks who are legally entitled to vote, and they have proven that they are a registered voter and met all the legal requirements to do so, they now have to go through yet another hurdle,” Hoadley said.
But Posthumus Lyons says her legislation would be more inclusive because the state would pay for people who can’t afford an ID or birth certificate.
Her predecessor, current Kent County Clerk Mary Hollinrake says it’ll be a lot of work.
“It will add a large burden to the clerks who have to do it,” Hollinrake said. “We need to slow down, analyze the bills and see if they are going to go through how we can improve them so that there will be no voter suppression and that everyone who wants to vote in Michigan, who has clearly registered to vote, can vote,” Hollinrake said.
“As somebody who’s about to take office as a chief elections administrator I really am sensitive to the concerns of our local clerks,” Posthumus Lyons said. “Our clerks are charged with ensuring secure elections for our citizens. They have a monumental task, and our local clerks really do a great job. This legislation really will help instill voter confidence in our elections at a time when so many are questioning the system.”
Posthumus Lyons says it’s about not making it easy for people to cheat. Though she said she doesn’t believe there’s widespread fraud in the voting system.
24 Hour News 8 looked at some of the numbers. In Grand Rapids, there were 550 people who voted without an ID.
On Thursday, Posthumus Lyons is hoping to report the bills out of committee. Then it would go to the House floor for a vote.