By Josh Thall
The Lansing Star
LANSING – The U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled Texas would be allowed to enforce a voter identification law which is stricter than most other states, including Michigan, where voters technically do not need any form of photo ID.
The Texas law says all people must have a government-issued form of photo identification with them to cast a vote on Election Day. Many other states, including Michigan, allow people to vote even if they do not bring a photo ID to their polling place.
In Michigan it is preferred that voters have some form of photo ID with them, according to Lansing City Clerk Chris Swope.
“They are asked for a picture ID but if they don’t have it then they can sign an affidavit stating that they do not have it with them,” Swope said. “So they have to be registered and on the list of voters in the precinct that they are voting in.”
The affidavit voters have to sign states you do not have a photo ID with you, but you are the person you say you are. Once you sign the affidavit, you are allowed to cast your vote regularly, Swope said.
The Supreme Court is allowing the Texas law to be enforced for the upcoming election, despite Corpus Christi Federal Court Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos’ ruling that the state’s law violated both the Constitution and the Voting Rights Act. Texas was attempting to engage in intentional racial discrimination in the voting process with this law, according to the official dissent which was handed down from the Corpus Christi Federal District Court.
Texas has identified its seven acceptable forms of identification as a Texas driver’s license, election identification certificate (issued free to any voter), personal identification card, a Texas concealed handgun license, U.S. military ID, United States citizenship certificate or a U.S. passport, according to the Texas voting website.
Swope said he believes the Texas law is too strict, especially since there are people who live in this country and do not have a government ID.
“People should not have to get a form of ID that they don’t have in order to be registered to vote,” Swope said. “If you are disenfranchising thousands of people to prevent the rare circumstance of voter impersonation fraud that there is no evidence really happens, then it seems like you are disenfranchising too many people for a problem that doesn’t really exist.”
Dancer and Musician Nic Gareiss, 28, who is a registered voter in Mount Pleasant, Mich., said the Texas ID law is not just a little strict, but might even be borderline discriminatory.
“There are people who live and make a living in this country who might not have a government issued ID, people who come from another place or have children here, but haven’t become citizens yet,” Gareiss said Monday in downtown Lansing. “To me the law seems a little bit dare I say bigoted or racist.”
Clinton Crick, 29, a web developer for 906 Technologies in Marquette, Mich. agreed with Gareiss, adding he believes the law is a form of new tax on the people of Texas.
A decision by the Supreme Court was made on this issue recently because justices had to rule on it before early voting in Texas started on Monday, Oct. 20.
Michigan is one of 17 states, however, that does not currently have an early voting system, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures’ website.
Swope said while Michigan does not have an early voting system, voters can apply for an absentee ballot which voters mail in and are kept in a secrecy envelope until after the election when all the votes are counted.
Crick said there should be a system for early voting, in order to help people who might not be able to make it out on Election Day.
“I do believe that there should be more options, early voting certainly being one of them whether that is only offered the weekend prior or whatever,” Crick said Monday in downtown Lansing. “I also believe that Election Day should be a federal holiday to make it easier for people to get to the polls.”
Gareiss added, “I imagine for older demographic in particular, it seems like that would be important for them to be able to have a say in every election they want, even if they have prior obligations and cannot make it to the polls on election day.”