Michigan governor vetoes voter identification legislation

[JURIST] Michigan Governor Rick Snyder (R) [official website] on Tuesday vetoed several measures in a series of new legislation that included amendments to the state's election laws. Two of the vetoed bills would have required voters to produce photo identification for absentee voting and to confirm their citizenship before voting [HB 5061 veto letter] and a third would have required voter registration groups to undergo training [SB 754 and SB 803 veto letter]. Snyder cited concern [press release] that the vetoed measures would create confusion among absentee voters and that the vetoed measures might interfere with ongoing voter registration efforts. At the same time, Snyder signed a number of other measures designed "to increase election transparency, prevent election fraud and provide consistency across all voting locations" including measures to "ensure proper handling of election materials by establishing election clerk education programs as well as a post-election review process" and to "require any political party attempting to qualify as a new recognized party in Michigan to report on their spending." Snyder is the first Republican governor to veto [Reuters report] one of the spate of voter identification laws to pass through state legislatures in the past two years.

There are now 31 US states [NCSL backgrounder] that require voters to present some form of ID at the polls, including 15 states that require photo ID, but the issue remains controversial. In March a Wisconsin judge in the Dane County Circuit Court [official website] issued an injunction [JURIST report] temporarily blocking enforcement of the state's controversial new voter identification law, Wisconsin Act 23 [text, PDF]. In August South Carolina's Senate Minority Caucus filed an objection [JURIST report] with the US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website], asking it to reject the state's new voter identification law. In June, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon [official website] vetoed [JURIST report] a law requiring persons to present photo identification at voting booth. Last March the Georgia Supreme Court [official website] upheld [JURIST report] a law requiring voters to present one of six government-issued photo identifications in order to vote. In contrast, a three-judge panel for the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website] struck down [JURIST report] a portion of Arizona law requiring proof of citizenship for voter registration in October 2010.

 

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