Advance Notice: Briefs

GOP senator doubles down on voter ID measure 

By: - June 30, 2021 4:44 pm

Susan J. Demas

The Michigan Senate on Wednesday did not advance additional GOP-sponsored election bills, as some Democrats expected, but a Republican lawmaker made the case for a photo ID requirement for voting and having a signature on file at the polling station. 

“I think the most positive means of proving your identity is through your photo ID. So, to me that makes the most sense,” Sen. Tom Barrett (R-Charlotte) told reporters during Senate session. 

Senate Bill 303, sponsored by Barrett, requires voters to cast their ballot with a provisional ballot if they do not have a photo ID with them at the polling station. Democrats have called this measure a form of voter suppression. 

Barrett’s measure is part of a 39-bill GOP package that was introduced in March. The sweeping election changes came after President Joe Biden, a Democrat, won Michigan over former President Donald Trump by 154,000 votes. 

Sen. Erika Geiss (D-Taylor) called Barrett’s legislation “Jim Crow 2.0,” referring to racially discriminatory practices designed to keep Blacks from voting carried out in the South before the civil rights movement of the 1950s and ‘60s. Democrats have argued that a voter ID requirement eliminates people from the political process.

“Why this? Why now?” Geiss said during a virtual news conference held just prior to the Senate session. 

Barrett said he would support waiving the state ID card fee for economically challenged residents.  

“I’m happy to waive that fee and I think that all of my colleagues on our side, the Republican side, [would vote] yes for that,” said Barrett.

The Senate in bipartisan fashion last Thursday approved bills considered less controversial. Included were measures to flag, but not remove, the registration record of a deceased voter; require the state to establish a process to allow for members of the armed forces to cast their vote electronically; and to require a voter to acknowledge on their voter registration form they understand it is a felony to vote more than once in the same election. 

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Ken Coleman
Ken Coleman

Ken Coleman covers Southeast Michigan, economic justice and civil rights. He is a former Michigan Chronicle senior editor and served as the American Black Journal segment host on Detroit Public Television. He has written and published four books on black life in Detroit, including Soul on Air: Blacks Who Helped to Define Radio in Detroit and Forever Young: A Coleman Reader. His work has been cited by the Detroit News, Detroit Free Press, History Channel and CNN. Additionally, he was an essayist for the award-winning book, Detroit 1967: Origins, Impacts, Legacies. Ken has served as a spokesperson for the Michigan Democratic Party, Detroit Public Schools, U.S. Sen. Gary Peters and U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence. Previously to joining the Advance, he worked for the Detroit Federation of Teachers as a communications specialist. He is a Historical Society of Michigan trustee and a Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Detroit advisory board member.