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House committee hears testimony on new voter identification laws

people in voting booths
Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

Changes to Michigan’s voter identification laws might go through in the legislature’s lame duck session. A House committee heard testimony on the bills Wednesday.

The bills would require voters to prove their identity within 10 days of voting if they do not have a photo ID on them at the polls.

The legislation comes in the wake of a state-wide recount and an election filled with unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud.

Republican bill sponsor State Representative Lisa Lyons said the legislation would ensure voting integrity. Lyons said the current system of signing an affidavit and checking registration records is not enough.

“We don’t know if they are who they say they are,” she said. “And as we’ve experienced in several elections here in Michigan, every vote counts.”

Lyons said she wants to, “instill confidence in our system without creating huge barriers.”

But some say this legislation does create barriers. Merissa Kovach is with the ACLU of Michigan. She says requiring voters who don’t bring a photo ID to prove who they are within ten days could disenfranchise legitimate voters.

“We believe that if someone has already gone through the process of registering to vote, they’ve satisfied that ID requirement, they’ve gone to their polling place, they’ve waited in line, they’re a legal voter – they should be able to cast a ballot,” she said.

Lyons says she doesn’t see why fellow lawmakers would have a problem with the bills and hopes they will move through before the end of the year.

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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