Today, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) sent letters to every Michigan State Senator opposing two restrictive voting bills, S.B. 303 and S.B. 304, and urging senators to take no further action to consider or enact these bills. Both have already passed in the Senate, passed in the House with amendments and are now back in the Senate. The two bills would burden all eligible Michiganders’ right to vote by imposing these new hurdles, potentially violating the U.S. Constitution, the Michigan Constitution, and federal law. S.B. 303 makes Michigan’s voter ID law far more restrictive. Voters without photo ID would no longer be able to cast a regular ballot by signing an affidavit, and would instead be forced to cast a provisional ballot. S.B. 303 subjects in-person voters to a signature-matching process when they sign in to vote—without providing any standards or signature analysis training to ensure that poll workers don’t make mistakes. Under S.B. 303, voters who cannot show ID or have their signatures rejected would be forced to vote a provisional ballot. S.B. 3’s provisions will cause more voters to cast provisional ballots and increase wait times at the polls. S.B. 4 interacts with these provisions and to further restrict access to voting by making it more difficult to have their provisional ballot counted. The bill would require provisional-ballot voters to go to their clerk’s office within six days of the election and present a photo ID in order to have their ballot counted. This clearly would be extremely difficult or near impossible for voters who were forced to cast a provisional ballot in the first place because they did not possess an photo ID.
Black voters and other voters of color are far more likely than white voters to use the affidavit-voting option, and signature-matching provisions can lead to erroneous rejections especially for older voters, voters with disabilities, and voters who speak a language other than English. In addition, Black voters are already more likely to wait in longer lines, more likely to be forced to vote provisional ballots, and more likely to have those provisional ballots rejected. Together, S.B. 303 and S.B. 304 would likely disenfranchise the disproportionately Black and low-income Michigan voters who lack access to photo identification, subject these voters and other historically marginalized groups to potentially arbitrary and unreliable signature-matching standards, and force more voters to cast provisional ballots—while decreasing the likelihood that such provisional ballots will count.
Read the full letter here.
Founded in 1940, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the nation’s first civil and human rights law organization. LDF has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute is a multi-disciplinary and collaborative hub within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund or LDF. Follow LDF on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.