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This fall, Michigan voters will be asked to consider Proposal 2, which would change voting protections in the state’s constitution.
The proposal would not eliminate the state’s existing requirement that voters show a photo ID before casting a ballot in person. Voters will still be asked to show a poll worker picture identification before they receive a ballot.
People who do not have a photo ID or do not have it with them will also still be allowed to vote if they sign an affidavit, which is a type of sworn written statement, verifying their identity.
There are several elements to Proposal 2, a voting-focused ballot measure that Michigan voters will be asked to consider in the November midterm election. But one thing Proposal 2 won’t do? Abolish a voter identification requirement established by state lawmakers years ago.
But some Michiganders, including Ted Nugent, a politically conservative rock musician who has more than 3.5 million followers on Facebook, have shared misleading claims about the proposal on social media.
"For all of you Michiganders!!!!" Nugent wrote in a Sept. 20 post. "Instead of listening to the vast majority of Michiganders supporting common sense election reforms like requiring a photo ID to vote, the soulless left decided to put a Constitutional Amendment on our ballot this fall."
Nugent — who MLive reported is a member of the far-right Oath Keepers, a militia group with ties to the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol — continued, claiming the proposal would threaten Michigan election security.
"What does Proposal 2 do?" Nugent asked. "It will permanently put in the Constitution that you NEVER have to show an ID to vote ever again."
The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)
That misrepresents what the proposal would do. Instead, it would enshrine Michigan’s current requirements to show voter identification into the state constitution.
Nugent’s claim about the voter ID element of Proposal 2 misleads by ignoring Michigan’s existing voter identification requirements.
If Proposal 2 passed, it would, among other things: require nine days of early in-person voting; require at least one ballot drop box per municipality or one per 15,000 voters in larger municipalities; allow municipalities to use publicly disclosed donations to help administer elections; and require state-funded postage for absentee ballots.
Tyrone Washington shows a mailer reminding voters they must present a valid photo ID to vote at the New St. Paul Tabernacle in Detroit, Nov. 6, 2007. Michigan voters were being asked to either show photo identification or sign a short affidavit for the first time. (AP)
Voters in Michigan have been required to show picture identification or sign an affidavit verifying their identity since 2007. An affidavit is a sworn written statement that asserts certain facts — in this case, that someone’s identification details are true, under penalty of perjury.
"After checking the ePollbook to verify that the voter is registered to vote in the precinct, ask the voter to show one of the forms of photo identification listed below to verify the voter’s identity," reads the state’s Election Officials’ Manual. "Be sure to ask all voters for picture ID."
The instructions continue: "If the voter states that he or she has picture identification but did not bring it to the polls or if the voter states that he or she does not possess one of the acceptable forms of picture identification, the voter can vote by signing the ‘Affidavit of Voter Not in Possession of Picture Identification.’"
The manual is clear:
"A voter who does not possess picture identification who refuses to sign the affidavit cannot vote and should be referred to the local clerk.
A voter who claims to have picture identification but refuses to show it cannot be issued a ballot until they show it and should be referred to the local clerk."
If Proposal 2 passes, this procedure will not change.
The proposed constitutional changes are too long to put on the ballot in their entirety, so voters will find a summary of the proposal when casting their votes. The portion of that summary that addresses voter ID laws states that Proposal 2 would provide voters with the "right to verify identity with photo ID or signed statement."
That is in line with section 168.523 of Michigan election law, which states that "at each election, before being given a ballot, each registered elector offering to vote must identify himself or herself by presenting identification for election purposes."
If the registered voter has no acceptable ID, "the individual shall sign an affidavit to that effect before an election inspector and be allowed to vote," the law continues.
The proposal also would not change Michigan voter registration requirements.
In Michigan, people are automatically registered to vote when applying for or updating their license or state ID cards — unless they opt-out or are ineligible to vote.
People can also complete a voter registration application online, in person or mail a completed application to a designated election official, as long as it is more than 15 days before the election. The application asks people to verify that they are qualified to vote and to provide their Michigan-issued ID number or the last four digits of their social security number. If neither can be provided, the application asks a potential voter to include a copy of a valid photo ID from any state or a copy of a document that lists their name and address (e.g. utility bill, bank statement, etc.)
Within 14 days of an election, people can only register to vote in person and must provide a document that verifies their residency and includes their current address, such as a state ID, university document or utility bill. Voters can register on Election Day.
Micheal Davis, executive director of Promote the Vote, the group that brought forward Proposal 2, said it "enshrines Michigan’s current, effective voter identification law into the Michigan Constitution."
About 2.3 million people voted in person in Michigan’s election Nov. 3, 2020, and only 11,417 voted without showing an ID. That’s about 0.5% of in-person voters. The vast majority of people voting in person show their IDs.
But for the small number who do not, "current law provides safeguards for voters to verify their identity," Davis said. Proposal 2 ensures the current law "is permanent and won’t be subject to legislative changes in the future."
Michigan’s voter ID requirements are not as strict as some other states. But Republican state lawmakers have recently supported stricter voter identification requirements, in line with the national trend.
Jeff Litten, executive director of Secure MI Vote, a group advocating for stricter voter ID laws, opposes writing these existing measures into Michigan’s constitution. He said he believes using affidavits creates an opportunity for fraud in that someone might impersonate a voter.
But Michigan election law already makes that a felony punishable by up to four years in prison and up to a $2,000 fine.
Nugent claimed that Proposal 2 on Michigan voters’ ballots "will permanently put in the Constitution that you never have to show an ID to vote ever again."
Michigan voters have been required to show picture identification or sign a sworn affidavit verifying their identity since 2007. Poll workers ask to see photo IDs before giving voters their ballots, and the vast majority of Michigan voters show their IDs when voting. A tiny percentage of voters sign affidavits to cast their ballots.
If Proposal 2 passes, it will put these existing procedures into the state constitution. It won’t change existing voter ID requirements.
The statement contains an element of truth but ignores critical facts that would give a different impression. We rate this claim Mostly False.
MLive, Ted Nugent, rocker and member of far-right Oath Keepers, endorses Kevin Rinke, June 23, 2022
Michigan.gov, A guide to voter ID/affidavit at the polls, accessed Sept. 27, 2022
Michigan.gov, Election Officials’ Manual, accessed Sept. 27, 2022
Bridge Michigan, Voting rights ballot measure: What Proposal 2 would change in Michigan, Sept. 9, 2022
Michigan.gov, Picture identification in the polls: Questions and answers, published June 2013
Michigan Legislature, Michigan election law excerpt - Act 116 of 1954, 168.523, accessed Sept. 27, 2022
Email interview with Micheal Davis, executive director of Promote the Vote, Sept. 26, 2022
Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute, Affidavit, accessed Sept. 27, 2022
The Washington Post, Michigan activists push for ballot initiative to expand voting access, July 11, 2022
ProPublica, Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about voter ID laws, March 9, 2016
National Conference of State Legislatures, Voter ID laws, accessed Sept. 27, 2022
The Detroit Free Press, Early voting amendment could land on Michigan's November ballot, petition organizers say, July 11, 2022
The Detroit Free Press, Whitmer vetoes election bills aimed at overhauling voter ID rules, Oct. 29, 2021
The Detroit Free Press, Michigan Supreme Court orders certification of Promote the Vote proposal, Sept. 8, 2022
Bridge Michigan, GOP targets no-ID ballots to cut fraud. Only 0.2% voted that way in Michigan, May 19, 2021
Michigan Voter Information, What's on the ballot?, accessed Sept. 27, 2022
Michigan.gov, Initiative petition amendment to the constitution, Proposal 2, accessed Sept. 27, 2022
Email interview with Jeff Litten, executive director of Secure MI Vote, Sept. 27, 2022
The Detroit Free Press, Republicans in Michigan Senate pass bills that would overhaul state voter ID laws, June 16, 2021
Michigan Voter Information Center, Register to vote, accessed Sept. 29, 2022
Michigan.gov, State of Michigan voter registration application, accessed Sept. 29, 2022
National State Legislature Conference, Voter ID laws, accessed Sept. 29, 2022
MLive, Secretary of State unveils automatic voter registration, Sept. 24, 2019
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