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Must Voters Possess Photo Identification When Voting In An Election In Michigan?

 

Michigan has relaxed rules regarding the identification that voters must present to confirm their identity before casting a ballot in Michigan.  When appearing to vote, a person can present any of the following photo identification documents to satisfy the requirement:

  • Michigan driver’s license
  • Michigan personal identification card
  • Driver’s license and personal identification card issued by another state
  • Federal or state government-issued photo ID.
  • U.S. passport.
  • Military identification card.
  • Student identification card from a high school or accredited college or university.
  • Tribal identification card.

After showing identification, voters must complete an application at the polling place that includes the name of the elector, residential address, date of birth, an affirmative statement indicating that he or she is a U.S. citizen and a signature.  The information on the application (including the signature) is compared to the data on file with the voter registration list.

However, if the person does not have photo identification, he or she is not barred from voting.  The elector may sign an affidavit before the election inspector verifying that he or she is actually who he or she is representing to be.  These affidavits are executed under oath.

If you are applying for an absentee ballot application in person at the city or township clerk’s office, you must present either photo identification or sign an affidavit verifying identity in the same manner as if you were casting a vote that day to receive the absentee ballot.  If you are applying for an absentee ballot online, you will be required to either write down your driver’s license identification number, state ID number or the last four digits of your Social Security number before e-mailing to the clerk.  However, voters can mail in an application for an absentee ballot without identification by signing a statement confirming their identity under penalty of law.

Does this create opportunities for voter fraud?  In reality, actual instances of a person falsely representing their identity to vote are nearly non-existent.  One reason why voter fraud is so low is that the criminal penalties are fairly severe:

  • “A person shall not, at an election, falsely impersonate another person, or vote or attempt to vote under the name of another person, or induce or attempt to induce a person to impersonate another person or to vote or attempt to vote under the name of another person.” MCL 168.932a(a).  A person who violates this law is guilty of a felony punishable by a fine up to $2,000.00 or up to 4 years in prison, or both.
  • “A person shall not assume a false or fictitious name to vote or to offer to vote by that name, enter or cause to be entered upon the registration book in a voting precinct a false or fictitious name, or induce or attempt to induce another person to assume a false or fictitious name in order to vote, by that name, vote, or offer to or enter or cause to be entered upon the registration book of a voting precinct, a false or fictitious name.” MCL 168.932a(b).  A person who violates this law is guilty of a felony punishable by a fine up to $2,000.00 or up to 4 years in prison, or both.
  • A person who makes a false affidavit or swears falsely while under oath for the purpose of securing registration or voting at an election is guilty of perjury. MCL 168.933.  The penalty for perjury can include up to 15 years in state prison.
  • A person who knowingly makes, files, or otherwise publishes a false document with the intent to defraud OR knowingly makes, files, or otherwise publishes a document that contains false signatures with the intent to defraud is guilty of forgery. MCL 168.933a.  The penalty for forgery can include up to 14 years in state prison.

If you or a loved one have questions about Michigan’s election laws or are charged with any criminal offense, then do not hesitate to contact the experienced attorneys at Kershaw, Vititoe and Jedinak PLC today.

 

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