Signature Check Requirement Decried By Elections Officials
June 29, 2021
By Jon King / email@example.com
Changes to an election bill made by a state House committee led by a local lawmaker are drawing criticism that it will require all voters to not only provide photo identification to cast a ballot, but also undergo a signature verification check at the polls.
Republican State Rep. Ann Bollin of Brighton Township chairs the House Elections Committee, which last week amended two Senate-approved bills to include the new signature policy. Those amended bills were then quickly passed by the House, which normally does not vote on bills the same day they pass out of committee.
While it was stated at the time that the signature check would only be applied to those voters without a photo ID, it now appears that the way it was written it will require all voters, regardless of whether they have a valid identification or not, to be subject to their signature being verified against that which is on file by the state, typically the same one found on a driver’s license.
Elections officials statewide oppose the bill out of concerns over disputes at the polls on Election Day about the authenticity of a voter’s signatures leading to longer lines. Voters, even with a valid identification, whose signatures are deemed insufficient would be required to cast a provisional ballot, and then return within six days to verify their identity. Otherwise, the ballot would not be counted. Chris Thomas, Michigan's longtime former elections director, told The Detroit News that change, “really creates a lot of potential for mischief with challengers now flyspecking signature checking.”
The amendment’s wording appears to have even surprised Bollin, who last week issued a press release that indicated the signature verification requirement was only supposed to apply to those who did not have a photo ID. But on Monday, The Detroit News quoted Bollin as saying she was "open to a conversation" about the language and that it could be "clarified" in the Senate.
Abby Walls, a spokeswoman for Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, said Republicans in the upper chamber will be "taking a look and likely making some changes.” Meanwhile, Tracy Wimmer, a spokeswoman for Democratic Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, said it is clear that the Bollin-led House Elections Committee was not fully aware of what the changes would do, telling The News, "At the end of the day, their only real goal is to create confusing new rules that impede citizens' freedom to vote and harm our ability to administer secure elections.”
Canton Township Clerk Michael Siegrist called the bill a "dumpster fire" in a Twitter thread, in which he noted that people's signatures change over the years or after an event such as a stroke and vowed to bring suit against the bill if it eventually passes into law.
Remember how you had to show ID to vote in November? Remember go the #MILEG keeps talking about how they are adding an ID requirement? Well, what if I told you that they snuck in a substitution at the last minute and now, even if you show your ID, your signature must match the pic.twitter.com/PeyHegv8Bi— Michael Siegrist (@umichsieg) June 26, 2021