New voter ID law could pass this week

Posted at 7:45 PM, Dec 12, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-13 07:56:22-05

With just three days left in the legislative session, state lawmakers are trying to push through a bill creating stricter voter identification rules.

The Republican backed bill would require voters to show a picture ID when they go to the polls,

"Do I think it's reasonable to ask for an ID? My goodness everybody has to have an ID to live in our society," said Sen. Rick Jones, (R-Grand Ledge). "You have to have a license or ID for everything now a days, cashing a check, young person entering a bar, applying for a job, so to say there's this segment of our population that doesn't have ID makes no sense at all."

The way it works now, registered voters who forget or don't have ID can sign an affidavit saying they are who they say they are, then they can cast their ballot.

In the November election 18,000 voters used an affidavit to cast their ballot, that's less than 1 percent of the total ballots cast.

This bill would change that so voters who sign an affidavit have 10 days to show ID to their local clerk, or their vote will not be counted.

"They're trying to make it harder for people to vote and I just don't think that's right," Sen. Curtis Hertel Jr., (D-Lansing).

State democrats call it a backward move that targets voters who are homeless, or are minorities and can face challenges getting ID.

"What we should be more concerned about is the democratic process and making it that everybody has their right to actually be able to go vote," Hertel said.

If the bill passes it would also make birth certificates and state ID's free for people who can't afford them, but Democrats say those provisions aren't enough.

"I think that upgrading our election system would be very important, making sure that they're not possible to be hacked," Hertel said.

But Jones says this law is part of that process, helping ensure the integrity of each vote.

"This would block any potential fraud of somebody voting multiple times, somebody voting for a dead person, I think it's very reasonable," he added.

Last week the House passed the bills mainly on party lines. They're now on the Senate floor where Democrats are concerned the Republican majority means there will be enough support to push these through.