DETROIT – In an effort to educate all Michigan residents about recent changes in election law, the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan sent a letter to Allen Park officials today to correct misinformation that appeared in the city’s newsletter.
Contrary to what appeared in the Summer 2008 issue of the Allen Park News, Michigan voters do not need photo ID to cast a ballot in Michigan. In fact, if they do not have photo ID with them, voters can ask to sign an affidavit stating that they do not have ID and proceed to vote a regular ballot.
“It’s important for all municipalities in Michigan to give correct and complete information not only to voters, but to all poll workers,” said Mary Bejian, Deputy Director of the ACLU of Michigan. “The ACLU is committed to working with all cities in Michigan to ensure that no voter is discouraged from voting due to misinformation. Unfortunately, we expect that our letter to Allen Park is only the first of such letters we write this election season.”
In the 3-page letter, the ACLU wrote “[w]e do not believe that your office intended to discourage registered voters without photo ID from going to the polls on Election Day. We are concerned, however, that the Clerk’s Office may not fully understand the affidavit option and the ease with which voters without photo ID may vote by signing the affidavit.”
To raise awareness and to counter the misperception, the ACLU encouraged Allen Park and other municipalities facing the same challenges to:
- Place the corrected information on the homepage of the city’s website
- Ensure that all poll workers receive training on the right of individuals without photo ID with them to vote by signing the affidavit form
- Widely publicize before the primary and general election that individuals without acceptable ID may still cast their ballot, by placing this information in the city’s newsletter and all local publications.
According to the Secretary of State, 370,000 of Michigan’s seven million registered voters possess neither a driver’s license nor a state identification card. Several studies, including a 2001 report from the National Commission on Federal Election Reform, indicate that minorities, seniors, and with disabilities disproportionately lack photo ID compared to the majority population.
“With the number of Michigan registered voters that do not have photo ID,” said Bejian, “it is imperative that correct information is disseminated through the local clerk’s offices.”