MICHIGAN ELECTION COALITION

AUGUST 2012 PRIMARY ELECTION: PRELIMINARY REPORT AUGUST 22, 2012 OVERVIEW Total Number of Contacts: 145 866-OUR-VOTE: 48 NAACP hotline: 68 Other reports: 29 Contacts by Type * Complaints re: Citizenship Check box: 33 (38%) Concerns about license swipe into electronic pollbooks: 14 (16%) Questions/complaints re: Voter ID requirements: 8 (10%) IDENTIFIED PROBLEMS** Our reports were collected primarily via calls to a national hotline, 866-OUR-VOTE. The hotline was minimally advertised in the primary election, and specifically in the counties (Ingham, Oakland, Wayne) where many of the reports were made. As such, this should not be taken to be a comprehensive review of all problems during the primary election. Citizenship Check Box Incidents We received reports of several incidents where eligible voters were told by poll workers that they would be denied their ballot if they did not check a “citizenship checkbox” prior to voting. Of particular concern were calls received after check box “clarification” instructions were issued by the Secretary of State’s office mid-day to clerks and reports indicating poll workers in Detroit were trained to require the question to be answered in the affirmative before providing a ballot. One voter in West Bloomfield described arriving at the polls late in the afternoon, close to 3:00pm. He claimed that the poll worker at the precinct instructed him to complete the check box. He knew that this box was voluntary, despite the poll worker’s insistence that it was mandatory. According to the voter, the poll worker informed him that if he didn't fill out the box he would not receive his ballot. After further argument, someone from the clerk's office was called in to address the issue and the citizen was allowed to vote. The poll worker said they were instructed to tell everyone to complete the box before voting and said it was his “duty” to do so. This voter described the entire experience as uncomfortable, confusing, and made him feel as though he was under suspicion for simply asking about the box.

*Percentage

of known content of calls (88).

**

This report does not include absentee voters. Investigations are ongoing as to whether and to what extent absentee ballots were rejected if and when absentee voters failed to respond to the new question on their ballot envelope.

Our data suggests that this experience was far from an isolated incident. For instance, a Detroit resident later reported that when he went to vote, he was asked to check the citizenship box. Poll workers explained that all poll workers in Detroit were trained that “no check box, no ballot.” Similar problems were reported in Lansing, East Lansing, Battle Creek, Ann Arbor, and parts of Oakland County. Additionally, there is no indication that translated materials or translators were available in any precincts to explain the new question to limited English proficiency voters. The attached appendix provides a more detailed description of each incident report that the coalition received on August 7, 2012 relating to the Citizenship Check Box requirement. Other Incidents The coalition also received several calls reporting confusion over or wrongful enforcement of Michigan’s photo identification requirement. Callers in parts of Macomb, Oakland, and Wayne County described signs informed voters that photo identification was required under Michigan law, and did not inform voters who do not have a photo identification that they would be able to receive a ballot and vote after signing an affidavit attesting to their identity. One caller from Battle Creek was wrongly told that her photo identification was invalid because it was an out of state license. She was denied a ballot or an affidavit, until our representatives were able to inform the local election officials that the identification was indeed valid. Another caller from Wayne County reported observing people being turned away and denied ballots if they did not have photo identification. Several voters also expressed concern and surprise when their identification cards were “swiped” into a computer upon arrival to the precinct. Coalition representatives explained to these callers that the purpose for the swipe was to enter their voter data into the electronic poll book, but that explanation did not alleviate many of their concerns and questions about privacy and other use of the data. RECOMMENDATIONS FOR REFORM Based upon the above data, our coalition proposes three recommended changes that the Secretary of State must implement in order to avoid a repeat of these incidents on a grander scale in this November’s election. (1) End the Checkbox. We concur with the community and opinion leaders *** who have already called on the Secretary of State to eliminate the duplicative and potentially illegal requirement that citizens be asked to reaffirm their citizenship prior to receiving a ballot to vote. In addition to concerns expressed by voters on Election Day, we are also concerned about the possible discriminatory and intimidating impact of this requirement.

***

See, e.g., Detroit News Editorial, “Drop the Citizenship Question,” Aug. 17, 2012; Stephen Henderson, “A Lousy Feeling on Election Day,” Detroit Free Press, Aug. 7, 2012.

(2) Improve Voter Education on the Electronic Poll book. Voters should not be surprised on Election Day when their licenses or other identification cards are scanned into computers without any further explanation. The Secretary of State should engage in rigorous efforts to educate voters about the use and purpose of the electronic poll book, and protect the security of any data collected through the swipe of the identification cards, if she intends to continue or expand its use. (3) Ensure Consistent Implementation of Michigan’s Photo Identification Law. Many voters reported harassment or denial of ballots due to the improper enforcement of Michigan’s photo identification law. The Secretary of State should ensure that local election officials are training poll workers consistently to implement the law accurately, including allowing the affidavit exception for voters who arrive to the polls without identification.

APPENDIX – DETAILED INCIDENT REPORT

Time (if known) City County 1:12p Lansing Ingham 12:45p(ish Delhi ) Township Ingham Lansing Ingham Lansing Ingham Meridian 10:00am Twp Ingham 9:30am E. Lansing Ingham about 1pm Lansing Ingham East Lansing Ingham

Description Required to affirm citizenship, would not otherwise receive a ballot She did not fill out the citizenship box and was not asked about it. Received her ballot and voted. Required to affirm citizenship, would not otherwise receive a ballot Required to affirm citizenship, would not otherwise receive a ballot Required to affirm citizenship, would not otherwise receive a ballot Required to affirm citizenship, would not otherwise receive a ballot Required to affirm citizenship, would not otherwise receive a ballot Declined to answer…had to listen to speech and was permitted to vote. Required to affirm citizenship, would not otherwise receive a ballot. Caller "politely, but firmly insisted that it wasn't legal for them to insist I had to declare I am a US citizen on my voter affidavit." They scrambled around and a supervisor finally remembered an email memo they got "just now" clarifying that it isn't required. All day, they insisted on an illegal declaration. Poll worker indicated that he could not vote unless he checked the citizenship box. He refused and they would not given him a ballot. They asked if he would like to speak with the clerk. He said yes. They called the clerk indicated that he was correct and then the poll worker read the citizenship statement to him. He voted and it is assumed that his ballot was counted. Required to affirm citizenship, would not otherwise receive a ballot Citizenship pointed out and a poll worker filled out the question for her husband Required to affirm citizenship, would not otherwise receive a ballot Required to affirm citizenship, would not otherwise receive a ballot Required to affirm citizenship, would not otherwise receive a ballot Required to affirm citizenship, would not otherwise receive a ballot Required to affirm citizenship, would not otherwise receive a ballot Required to affirm citizenship, would not otherwise receive a ballot Required to affirm citizenship, would not otherwise receive a ballot

Unknown

East Lansing

Ingham

2:30p

Unknown approx. 10am approx. 10am approx. 10am

East Lansing Lansing Summit Twp Marshall City Jackson Clawson

Ingham Ingham Jackson Jackson Jackson Oakland

Southfield Oakland Ind. Twp Oakland

Southfield Oakland Clawson Oakland

APPENDIX – DETAILED INCIDENT REPORT
He was instructed at 3pm to complete the check box. He had heard a story on the radio about this, and he knew that this box was voluntary. When he informed the poll worker that it was voluntary, the poll worker said that if he didn't fill out the box he would not receive his ballot. They went back and forth on this a few times. After further argument, someone from the clerk's office was called in to address the issue and the voter was allowed to vote. The poll worker said he was telling everyone to complete the box before voting and said it was his "duty" to do so. This voter explained to me that the entire experience was West uncomfortable, confusing, and made him feel as though he was 3:00pm Bloomfield Oakland under suspicion for simply asking about the box. Caller reported that poll worker told her it was required to check the citizenship affirmation box before being able to vote. After telling poll worker that the governor did not require this; the poll worker informed her that the Secretary of State required it and 5:58pm ET Rochester Oakland she would not be able to vote unless she checked the box. 6:30pm Unknown Oakland Required to affirm citizenship, would not otherwise receive a ballot 5:00pm Ann Arbor WashtenawRequired to affirm citizenship, would not otherwise receive a ballot 2:43pm Clawson Oakland Required to affirm citizenship, would not otherwise receive a ballot Caller was told to fill out the citizenship box. Caller declined and said the Gov vetoed that legislation and I didn't have to. They gave me a ballot. I asked if my ballot was going to be considered Onondaga challenged. The woman indicated that there was no one there to 8:30a(ish) Township Ingham challenge my ballot so it would be counted as any other ballot. Onondaga Caller refused to fill in the citizenship box and was told to do it. 10:43a Township Ingham He refused and was given a ballot. Meridian Caller refused to fill in the citizenship box and was told would not Twp Ingham receive a ballot if did not complete the box Poll worker telling voters that citizenship check required to receive 8:08pm Southfield Oakland a ballot. . 9:42am None Unknown Required to affirm citizenship, would not otherwise receive a ballot Caller said that when he went to vote; he was asked to check the citizenship box. Poll workers told him he had to check the box and explained that poll workers in Detroit were trained that "no 6:30pm Detroit Wayne check box, no ballot". Detroit Wayne Required to affirm citizenship, would not otherwise receive a ballot 12:11pm None None Caller was confused about purpose of citizenship check box

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