Senate panel approves bills strengthening absentee voter ID verification

LANSING, Mich. — The Senate Elections Committee on Wednesday approved legislation to better ensure voter identity verification when obtaining an absentee ballot.

“To make our elections more secure and less susceptible to cheating, we must do a better job of making sure people are who they say they are,” said Sen. Lana Theis, R- Brighton. “We have to show an ID to get married, buy a house, receive health care or social services, as well as a host of other things. It only makes sense that we require it for one of the most important aspects of our representative republic – voting.”

Senate Bill 285, sponsored by Theis, would require anyone applying for an absentee ballot with the secretary of state or a local clerk to provide either an official Michigan driver’s license number or personal identification card number, the last four digits of a social security number, a photocopy of such identification, or present proper identification to a clerk in person in order to verify their identity and receive an absentee voter ballot.

If a voter is unable to provide the required information, a provisional ballot would be issued, and the person would have up to six days after an election to prove their identity for the ballot to officially be tabulated. The bill would also provide clerks greater access to the secretary of state’s database to confirm the voter information provided.

The two other bills reported by the committee deal with in-person voting. SB 303 would require voters to show proper identification when voting in person. SB 304 would allow a voter who shows up in-person without proper identification 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.

Senate Bills 285, 303 and 304 now advance to the full Senate for further consideration.

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