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Voter ID bills keep moving through Legislature

The Michigan State Capitol
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Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0
Lawmakers are limited in the number of terms they can serve in Lansing by the state Constitution. Some say these limits lead to ineffective governing.

Stricter voting identification bills are on their way to the House floor for a full vote. The legislation passed through the House Elections committee Thursday.

The bills would require voters to prove their identity within 10 days of casting a provisional ballot if they don’t have a photo ID with them at the polls.

Democratic Representative Jeff Irwin is on the House Elections committee. He said the legislation disenfranchises voters, particularly the disabled and impoverished.

“These voter ID laws are going to turn valid voters away from the polls,” he said.  “And in a state like Michigan where we need more voices in the mix, we need more voices as part of our democracy. It makes no sense to me to take people who are obviously valid voters and turn them away.”

Bill sponsor, Representative Lisa Lyons says the legislation ensures integrity in our voting system by raising the bar instead of creating barriers.

“I think now is a very good time to be having the conversation and be doing everything we can to ensure secure elections and the integrity of our process,” she said.

But Irwin disagreed saying, “I think if we’re worried about election fraud, we need to watch the elected officials and politicians and worry less about trying to prevent voters from accessing the polls.”

Right now, voters without a photo ID on hand sign an affidavit and the clerks check to see if they are registered before their vote is counted.

The passed legislation includes a 10 million dollar appropriation from the general fund for voter education, election modernization and implementing voter ID provisions. This means that the legislation would be immune to a referendum challenge. 

Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County. Eventually, Cheyna took her investigative and interview skills and moved on to journalism. She got her masters at Michigan State University and was a documentary filmmaker, podcaster, and freelance writer before finding her home with NPR. Very soon after joining MPRN, Cheyna started covering the 2016 presidential election, chasing after Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and all their surrogates as they duked it out for Michigan. Cheyna also focuses on the Legislature and criminal justice issues for MPRN. Cheyna is obsessively curious, a passionate storyteller, and an occasional backpacker. Follow her on Twitter at @Cheyna_R
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