Pass voter Bill of Rights, not barriers to voting

Gretchen Driskell, Jeff Irwin, and Jon Hoadley

As we continue to analyze this year’s unconventional election, two things have become very clear: Michiganians are concerned about the integrity of our elections, and voters want their voices to be heard in our democracy. A package of bills in the Michigan Legislature claims to be addressing those concerns.

Don’t be fooled.

The House Committee on Elections, on which we sit, held a hearing on House Bills 6066, 6067, and 6068 on the morning of Nov. 30, just hours after they were introduced and made available to the public the previous evening.

The bills would require voters who do not bring a photo ID to their polling place on Election Day to vote with a provisional ballot. Their ballot would only be counted if the voter then returned to their clerk with valid photo ID within 10 days.

This is an attack on our freedom disguised as an appeal to security.

Having to show additional identification at the polls is a duplicative requirement. The fact is that these voters have already proven their identity in the past. Requiring voters who lost, forgot, or otherwise don’t currently have an ID to prove their innocence while assuming their guilt is an insult to our rule of law.

Furthermore, forcing working mothers and fathers, disabled voters, elderly voters, sick voters, impoverished voters, and other vulnerable citizens to jump through extra hoops, while other voters do not, is discrimination, plain and simple.

If the Michigan Legislature really wanted to make our elections secure, accurate, and modern, they would have passed the Voter Bill of Rights, a joint resolution we introduced in July of this year. The resolution would give voters the opportunity to add the Voter Bill of Rights to the Michigan Constitution, ensuring that every citizen who is a Michigan resident and is of voting age has the right to:

■Vote a secret ballot;

■If serving in the military or living overseas, have an absentee ballot sent at least 45 days before the election to ensure he/she has adequate time to send it back;

■Remain registered wherever he/she resides in Michigan;

■Be automatically registered to vote while conducting other business (such as driver’s license renewal) with the Secretary of State;

■Register to vote in person or by mail up to 15 days before the election;

■Vote by absentee ballot in person for at least 15 days before an election;

■Vote by absentee ballot without giving a reason.

Thirty-four states and the District of Columbia offer in-person early voting. Twenty-seven states and D.C. offer no-reason absentee voting. If we really want to ensure the integrity of our elections — to make sure they are safe, secure and accurate — we should modernize our voting systems. We shouldn’t be putting up barriers to our voting rights as the recent package of bills does.

Democratic state Reps. Gretchen Driskell, Jeff Irwin and Jon Hoadley represent Michigan’s 52nd, 53rd and 60th districts respectively.