Oct 21 / Estelle Rogers

Restrictive Voter Registration Proposal Considered in Michigan

Photo by jimbowen0306, used under Creative Commons license.

Senate Bill 754 is one of a series of bills introduced this year with the purpose of making it harder for people to register to vote, and harder for the nonprofit organizations that perform the service of helping them to register to vote.

The Michigan bill was introduced last week and is pending in Committee on Local Government and Elections.

First, SB 754 requires people trying to register at a government agency to bring state-issued photo ID with them. If they do not, their application will be treated like a mail registration.

Second, the bill creates numerous burdensome and irrelevant bureaucratic rules for nonprofit organizations engaged in voter registration efforts in Michigan. For example, a group would have to register with the Department of State and provide voluminous information, including the name and address of every agent of the organization who is helping to register voters in Michigan. Any changes in the information they submit must be reported promptly to the Department of State as well.

One person at the organization will have to “attend” a training developed by the secretary of state, and that person is required to train the rest of the staff. The bill does not specify where or how often these trainings must be offered, nor does it appear to offer an online alternative.

Finally, any voter registration form collected by the organization within seven days of an election must be turned in to the election authorities within one business day. The combined effect of these requirements is that small nonprofits that help to register voters—such as religious organizations, civic groups, and the League of Women Voters—are forced to spend valuable staff time keeping up with onerous paperwork requirements and complying with unreasonable deadlines instead.

Doesn’t the Michigan legislature have anything better to do than to pick on citizens who want to take part in the democratic process?

Learn more about voter registration drive restrictions here. Follow SB 754 by subscribing to Project Vote’s weekly Election Legislation digest here.

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