ACLU urges clerks to inform voters photo identification is not required to vote

DETROIT – The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan is reaching out to more than 100 clerks across the state Thursday urging them to inform voters that state law allows voters to cast a ballot with or without photo identification. 

In a letter sent to the clerks, the ACLU is asking that they post clear, accurate information about voter identification requirements at voting sites Tuesday to eliminate any confusion.

“It’s simple. If you’re a registered voter in Michigan, you have a right to vote – with or without a photo ID,” said Sharon Dolente, with ACLU of Michigan. “This is one of our most important rights as citizens, and the right to vote must be communicated accurately and protected by election officials.”

In the letter to clerks, the ACLU referenced a complaint from a Michigan voter who was unlawfully denied the opportunity to vote in the August primary. 

According to the ACLU, Nicole White, a registered voter in Washtenaw County, tried to cast her ballot but the poll worker did not allow her to vote. White, who does not drive, did not have a current state-issued photo identification card. 

“I wasn’t sure what my rights were but I assumed I could still vote,” said White. “But the poll worker refused and said I ‘just couldn’t vote,’ so I left because I figured they knew the rules better than I did.”

Under Michigan law, registered voters can cast ballots if they don’t have a photo ID or failed to bring it with them to the polls. The only requirement is that they sign a simple affidavit form available at each polling location.

“Voters rely on the guidance of election officials to ensure that they can exercise their fundamental right to vote,” said Dolente. “Poll workers have a legal duty to offer the affidavit to a voter without a picture ID.”

The ACLU is encouraging clerks to display the notice about voter identification that was prepared by the secretary of state, which is available here

The ACLU of Michigan’s letter asks clerks to “educate the public that under the Michigan voter ID law, those who do not own a picture ID and those who do not bring a picture ID with them to the polls may in fact, cast a vote, and that the vote will count.”

The full letter can be read here.