Citizenship question causes confusionPublished 6:09pm Wednesday, August 8, 2012
When Andrea Doll went to vote in Edwardsburg Tuesday, she was told she needed to complete a question on her application for a primary ballot affirming she is a U.S. citizen.
“I refused to fill out the question and was told by three separate poll workers — one of whom was the supervisor — that I was legally required to fill it out. The supervisor kept insisting it was required until I told her I had just heard on WVPE 10 minutes ago that it was not. Finally, at that point, she acknowledged that the governor had vetoed it and it was not, in fact, legally required. I was eventually given a ballot.”
“All voting centers were sent a memo around noon by Secretary of State Ruth Johnson reminding them that it was not required,” said Doll, who felt “bound and determined” to make a principled stand because of “all the crazy voter suppression going on. It’s not about protecting the sanctity of our elections or fraud.”
She wasn’t alone, and Dowagiac City Clerk James Snow, for one, agrees with her.
“It is a small form of suppression rather than weeding out fraud,” Snow said.
According to news reports across the state, the executive director of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network remembered a bill requiring a citizenship declaration before receiving a ballot was vetoed by Gov. Rick Snyder, so refused and was told he couldn’t cast a ballot.
Snyder vetoed Senate Bill 803, which sought to require residents to check off a box affirming their U.S. citizenship.
What set that sequence of events into motion was Secretary of State Ruth Johnson ordering the question put on ballot applications before the presidential primary in February, although no legislation existed requiring the question.
It appeared again in May.
The Legislature in June passed the law Snyder vetoed, ironically, because it would create confusion for voters and poll workers, since voters already must assert U.S. citizenship to register to vote.
The citizenship question appeared on Detroit applications because ballots had been printed in advance of Snyder’s veto and the city didn’t want to waste them.
At 11:58 a.m., Chris Thomas, state Bureau of Elections director, sent a clarification to municipal clerks telling them not to enforce the application’s citizenship declaration.
Cass County First Deputy Clerk-Register Monica Kennedy, the Republican nominee to succeed Barbara Runyon, said clerks were told if a voter refused to check the box, to advise the voter that under the state constitution and Michigan election laws, they must be a U.S. citizen to vote, then hand over a ballot.
Tags: Aug. 7 primary election