Editorial: Drop the citizenship question
Source: The Detroit News
By The Detroit News,
Rather than cause additional befuddlement in a heavily attended presidential election, Secretary of State Ruth Johnson should drop her citizenship question from the forms voters are handed when they go to the polls Nov. 6. It's small but superfluous red tape that, misapplied, can confuse citizens.
The several instances in which people were denied ballots during the Aug. 7 primary election should serve as fair warning. Among them was Michigan Campaign Finance Network Executive Director Rich Robinson, who refused to respond to the question, subsequently complained to the Bureau of Elections and was allowed to come back and vote later in the day.
Other less-forceful folks, refusing to answer the citizenship query for whatever reason, were turned away and didn't vote.
Adding to the bewilderment, poll workers were instructed around mid-day to allow voting by someone refusing to answer -- but after election workers warned them only U.S. citizens can vote.
Those with half-way decent memory had to be doubly confused, considering Gov. Rick Snyder -- a month earlier -- had vetoed a bill that would have required exactly what Johnson was demanding from voters (the reason for Robinson's refusal).
Johnson, who initiated her policy in the February GOP presidential primary, had opted to keep it despite the veto.
The Aug. 7 election proved that the question -- and its inconsistent application -- can cause enough confusion to be a significant problem.
There's no reason to doubt Secretary of State Johnson has anything but good motives. She wants to preserve the integrity of our elections.
But Michiganians already must be U.S. citizens to get voter registration cards.
Once they've done that and are on the rolls at precinct polling places, it's not necessary to ask them to reaffirm their citizenship.
The requirement should be scrapped in November.
(c) 2012, The Detroit News