By Jamie Lyons-Eddy | September 9, 2021
This is the moment we have been preparing for. On September 2, 2021, “Secure MI Vote” filed its indirect initiated statute petition with the Secretary of State. Despite their name, the group’s anti-voter petition would do nothing to improve our already secure elections, but it would absolutely make it harder for many voters to vote.
The petition would make the following alarming changes to Michigan Election Law:
- Require social security information for voter registration and make this information available to election officials;
- Make Michigan’s already strict photo ID laws even stricter, by limiting the kinds of acceptable ID for voting;
- Require voters without acceptable ID to vote a provisional ballot and return to the clerk’s office within 6 days or have their ballot discarded;
- Require personally identifiable information from active military, absentee voters, and victims of domestic violence, stalking and human trafficking on absentee ballot applications without safeguards to protect their privacy;
- Require absentee voters, including victims of domestic violence, stalking and human trafficking seekiing to vote absentee, who do not put acceptable ID information on their absentee applications to vote a provisional absentee ballot and return to the clerk’s office within 6 days or have their ballot discarded;
- Require active military voters who do not put acceptable ID information on their absentee applications to vote a provisional absentee ballot and submit ID information electronically within 6 days or have their ballot discarded;
- Prohibit election officials from sending absentee ballot applications without receiving a specific request;
- Increase election costs, including spending $3 million from taxpayers for FY2022 and banning the use of non-taxpayer funding sources, including funding from foundations and other nonpartisan entities that were used to increase election security and accessibility in 2020.
Michigan’s Constitution allows a controversial procedure where, if Secure MI Vote can collect 340,047 signatures through a petition drive, the GOP-controlled House and Senate can enact the voter suppression laws with a simple majority. The Governor would not have the power to veto it and the people will never see it on the ballot. The mechanism is called the “indirect initiative statute.” With a population of 10 million residents in the state, that means the extreme anti-voter group needs to gather signatures from just 3.4% of the population to make it harder for all voters to exercise our Constitutional right to vote.
The good news is that we have already gotten the jump on the anti-voter petition. While the legislature operated mostly in recess throughout the month of August, VNP continued to focus on public education and organizing, recruiting more than 100 additional volunteers for the decline-to-sign effort. Volunteers have been working up and down the state, tabling at events from Marquette to Muskegon to Farmington, collecting almost 200 pledge cards and recruiting 20 new volunteers.
There is a lot of work that needs to be done, but we have already hit the ground running in September. VNP volunteers are working with partners to locate circulators of the anti-voter petition, educate potential signers, and elevate any rule-breaking or lying to expose the petition
drive as a toxic effort to suppress the vote. We are ramping up our voter education effort by surveying 110,000 likely voting rights supporters about the anti-voter initiative. VNP is working at the grassroots level with partner organizations to encourage local resolutions opposing anti-voter legislation.