VanderWall supports Senate’s passage of ‘commonsense’ voter ID reforms

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Curt VanderWall voiced his support for legislation passed on Wednesday and Thursday to strengthen ID requirements for voting and make it easier for residents to get free state personal identification cards.

“The importance of upholding the integrity and security of our elections has been a serious topic of discussion and debate across state for much of the last year; and many hours of Senate hearings have shed light on some vulnerabilities within Michigan’s laws that were exposed following the historic 2020 election,” said VanderWall, R-Ludington. “These bills are commonsense measures to address some of these vulnerabilities and ensure the continued security and integrity of our elections.”

Among the bills passed on Thursday was Senate Bill 304, sponsored by VanderWall, which would allow in-person voters without proper identification and absentee voters who fail to fill in identifying information the ability to cast a provisional ballot and return to their local clerk within six days after the election to verify their identity so that their vote can be counted.

SB 304 is tie-barred to Senate Bill 303, passed by the Senate on Wednesday, which would require voters to show proper identification when voting in person and require absentee voters to write their Michigan driver’s license number or state ID card number on their absentee ballot application to verify their identity. Under the bill, voters could also write the last four digits of their social security number on their application or present their ID to their clerk to get an absentee ballot.

A statewide poll from the Detroit Regional Chamber and the Glengariff Group in May 2021 showed that 79.7% of Michigan registered voters support requiring “every voter coming to the polls present a government-issued identification to cast their ballot” — that included 100% of strong Republicans, 83.4% of Independents, and 58.4% of strong Democrats. A recent Monmouth University poll found that four out of every five Americans (80%) support showing ID to vote.

“With more and more people voting by mail or drop box, it is important that we have just and proper voter ID laws,” said VanderWall, member of the Senate Elections Committee. “Polls show that upwards of 80% of voters support presenting valid ID as a means to maintain election security. The goals of these bills are widely supported by Michiganders from various political affiliations and, at the end of the day, are good policy and plain common sense.”

House Bill 5007, also approved by the Senate on Thursday, would make obtaining or renewing an official state personal identification card free of charge to Michigan residents.

SB 303 would also prohibit the use of third-party money for elections administration in Michigan and ban the secretary of state or other government officials from sending unsolicited absentee ballot applications to voters.

Last year, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson used millions in COVID relief funds to send absentee ballot applications to millions of people, some of whom lived out of state, had already received applications from their local clerk, or were dead.

“That’s just not right,” VanderWall said. “As legislators, we have a duty to fix vulnerabilities in our election laws and protect the vote of every citizen in Michigan.”