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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

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From the Daily: Block the vote

BY THE MICHIGAN DAILY

Published June 17, 2012

The results of this November’s election will have a major impact on numerous policy decisions at the local, state and federal level. But a new set of laws passed by the Michigan House of Representatives threatens to deny voters the opportunity to express their views at the voting booth. The House bills are clearly deliberate attempts to prohibit many Michigan citizens from voting, including college students and minority groups. In such a pivotal election year, Republican Gov. Rick Snyder must veto these bills so everyone’s voices can be heard without unfair and unnecessary restrictions.

If Gov. Snyder signs the eight-bill House package, Michigan voters would have to “present photo identification when applying for an absentee ballot in their first election or sign an affidavit,” the Associated Press reports. The House bills would also require third-party voter registration groups — including registration groups affiliated with universities — to “register and receive training.” House Republicans argue that these bills would make voting more secure in the state of Michigan.

Under the Higher Education Act, universities have a legal obligation to help their students register to vote. For example, the Voice Your Vote group here at the University works to “encourag(e) student voter participation” under a “non-partisan” label. Many University students will be voting for the first time this fall, and some won’t know the proper registration process or other voting logistics. The House bills would make these groups receive training from Michigan’s Secretary of State as well as submit completed voter registration forms within two business days in the last week of the voter registration period, which would greatly hinder the ability for third-party voter registration groups to help students with the voting process.

The bills also are very likely to be politically motivated. College students and minority groups usually vote for Democrats in elections, so the Republican-led House would naturally want to reduce the number of potential Democratic votes in a close election. This tactic is unacceptable since the right to vote is undeniably guaranteed by the Constitution. House Republicans also claim that 1,000 dead people voted in Michigan between 2008 and 2011. This is a false notion, as they were “clerical errors,” according to Michigan’s Secretary of State Office. It’s clear that voter fraud is not the problem here, and Republicans are grasping at straws to try to determine who votes and who doesn’t.

There is no reason the government should be intervening to further diminish voter turnout as only 40 to 60 percent of American citizens vote in national elections. Strict voter ID laws shouldn’t be established to turn even more Americans away from the polls each year. Instead, the government should be working to increase voter turnout, so that as many American citizens as possible can vote and become part of our nation’s future.

Gov. Snyder needs to veto this unjust bill in order to ensure that as all Michigan citizens over 18 have the ability to vote come November and have an important say in our nation’s future. Moreover, the governor's veto is imperative, as it could potentially deter many minorities and college students from voting in the future.