September 17, 2010 at 11:07 am

Michigan voting laws under fire

Washington -- Two progressive organizations said Thursday Michigan needs to improve its voter laws to make sure disenfranchisement problems don't crop up in November's election.

Michigan was one of 10 states Demos, a New York think tank, and Common Cause in Washington, put on its list of states with tight, closely watched national races they're concerned about. In a conference Thursday, the director of Michigan Common Cause, Christina Kuo, said Michigan wasn't the worst of those profiled -- which included Arizona, Kentucky and Ohio -- but said in a statement "voters need to be vigilant and Michigan needs to be improved."

In particular, the two organizations expressed worry over the fact that Michigan doesn't have a law prohibiting deceptive practices that leave "voters vulnerable to Election Day dirty tricks and misinformation campaigns" about who can vote and where, the report said.

Demos and Common Cause advocates also criticized Michigan's voter registration deadlines, which requires would-be voters to be registered 30 days before an election. That, the groups said, leaves interested voters who haven't registered for previous elections out of luck if they don't plan far enough in advance.

The groups warned Michigan law allows any registered voter to challenge another voter's registration, which leaves the voter in question responsible for defending their right to vote.

Michigan did get some kudos from the two groups for Secretary of State Terry Lynn Land's efforts to register voters at citizenship naturalization ceremonies in the state.

Leyton lays out plan

Democratic attorney general candidate David Leyton unveiled Thursday a five-point plan for reforming Michigan government that includes a task force to prosecute corrupt officials.

The Genesee County prosecutor said that, if elected, he also would work to cut his pay and all state politicians' pay 10 percent, end lifetime health care benefits for lawmakers and require elected officials to disclose their income and assets. Leyton also wants a two-year ban on lobbying for outgoing lawmakers and government bureaucrats.

Former Michigan Court of Appeals Judge Bill Schuette is the Republican attorney general candidate. He says he's been discussing similar ideas, but says the most-needed reform is cutting spending and government.

New ads air

Republican Rick Snyder's business record at Gateway Inc. is the subject of two new Democratic ads, while the Republican Governors Association is accusing Democrat Virg Bernero of voting to raise taxes and fees.

Bernero's ad says Snyder laid off workers while he was on the board at Gateway Inc. A similar charge is made in a ad paid for by the Michigan Democratic State Central Committee, which ends by pointing out that Snyder made millions of dollars from the sale of Gateway stock and noting that the company was sold in 1997 to a Chinese firm.

The Republican Governors Association began airing an ad Wednesday that shows Bernero agreeing he's a "career politician" and accusing him of voting to raise taxes and fees while a lawmaker, and fees during the five years he has been mayor.

nhurst@detnews.com">nhurst@detnews.com (202) 662-8738 The Associated Press contributed.