Free IDs For Indigents Bill Moves
The House passed 63-43 today a bill allowing the Secretary of State to give free photo identification cards to the poor, apparently as part of a Republican push to bolster the constitutionality of a law that requires voters to show photo ID at the polls.
Democrats opposed the legislation on what appeared to be a variety of grounds. They said they didn't know how the state would pay for. They said there are no rules on who would qualify for the ID. They said those who do qualify for the free ID would still need to come up with identification such as birth certificates in order to prove their identities, which could be problematic for some.
At one point this afternoon on the House floor, House Majority Floor Leader Chris WARD (R-Brighton), the bill's sponsor, gave a pointed reaction to a speech made against the bill by Rep. George CUSHINGBERRY (D-Detroit). Cushingberry claimed the legislation would disenfranchise 350,000 Michigan voters and then he made some reference to the Confederacy.
"The issue of requiring voter IDs is in the court," Ward responded. "If you're worried about disenfranchising people, you should vote for this bill."
Rep. Andrew MEISNER (D-Ferndale) said he was opposing the bill because of the funding issue.
"I have grave concerns about where the funding would come from to carry out this project," Meisner said.
Meisner offered a floor amendment to the bill that would have tie-barred it to several Democratic-sponsored bills. The amendment failed. Ward offered an amendment that said the Secretary of State would be required to do everything within reason to inform the public about the program and its requirements. This amendment passed.
This morning, the House Oversight, Elections and Ethics Committee, chaired by Ward reported out the legislation along with other election reform measures. Republican members voted for the legislation while Meisner and Rep. Matt GILLARD (D-Alpena), the only Democrats on the committee, voted against it.
"Since we can apparently know how many there are, would this include an outreach effort to seek these people out?" Gillard asked in committee after Ward stated that it's estimated that there are more than 350,000 Michigan citizens to whom the legislation would apply.
"If you have any ideas along those lines I'd be happy to entertain a friendly amendment," Ward responded.
Later in the discussion Ward suggested that Michigan should take a look at what Indiana has done in regard to outreach.
"I think it would be good to look at the state of Indiana on that since the same federal court Michigan's law would ultimately have to go before has already ruled that Indiana's law is constitutional."
Meisner then pointed out that Georgia has passed legislation requiring voters to show photo IDs and also included a provision that the state would provide the IDs for those who couldn't afford them, yet the federal courts had struck down the Georgia law.
Ward responded that today's issue wasn't the photo ID requirement.
"The photo ID issue is now in the hands of the State Supreme Court," Ward said. "This is about providing IDs to those who otherwise couldn't get them."
Both Gillard and Meisner then asked how the free ID program would be funded.
"Have you identified a funding source for this?" Gillard asked.
"I believe a placeholder has been put into a supplementary budget," Ward responded.
Then Gillard asked what a person would need to do to get such an ID.
The Secretary of State representatives said they'd have to meet the same standards as everyone else by providing proof that they are who they say they are.
"I certainly wouldn't want to be supporting counterfeit IDs," Ward quipped in support of the standards.
Bureau of Elections Director Chris THOMAS quoted former U.N. Ambassador and civil rights advocate Andrew YOUNG, saying that anything that can be done to help provide IDs for people should be done.
Currently an applicant for a state identification card pays $10 to the Secretary of State for each original and renewal ID card issued. The card expires on that person's birthday four years after it's issued. The Secretary of State is required to waive the fee if the applicant is 65 years, had their driver license pulled because of a mental or physical disability, is blind or presents other good cause to not be charged.
HB 6007 would retain all of these provisions and add a person who presents evidence that he or she is unable to pay the fee required, to the list of reasons for fee waivers.
Two other bills (HB 6022 and HB 6026) that are part of Ward's overall election reform package were also reported out today. HB 6022 would allow election officials to create an inactive voter file. If a voter whose name was in the inactive file remained completely inactive for two presidential election cycles the name would be removed from the system.
Gillard asked Thomas (who supports the bill) if other states had instituted longer periods.
"No," Thomas responded. "In fact some have put in shorter periods and been more aggressive about having inactive names removed."
Gillard and Meisner voted against reporting the bill out.
HB 6026 consists of technical amendments to the revised school code concerning school elections.
Lastly, if I need an ID to buy a firearm, then there's no reason we shouldn't require ID's for voters to maintain election integrity. The only reason the democrats really oppose this is because they support voter fraud as it benefits them. We don't need illegal aliens voting. We don't need people voting twice.