Citizenship question on ballot application causes confusion, frustration

So you’ve all heard by now that the citizenship question was on the ballot application yesterday. The question in question was this,

“Are you a US citizen?”

It’s not that it’s all that hard of a question, at least not for most of us. I can see it being a problem area for some folks who have recently had a change in citizenship status, or folks who thought they might have to prove citizenship. (Aside: isn’t it our own Governor Snyder who keeps asking immigrants to come to Michigan?)

Republicans don’t seem to think it’s a problem:

What Part of “Are You a United States Citizen” is confusing?

Apparently many people (Democrats) are confused by this question:

“Are you a United States Citizen?”

Somehow, one gets the feeling the left is trying to set a precedent with today’s overreaction.

To answer the first question, the part that is “confusing” is the part where eligible voters are turned away because they refuse to answer a question that they are not legally obligated to answer. I thought those right-wing nutbags were all about liberty & stuff??

As for the precedent, it was set years ago when we outlawed poll taxes and voter intimidation. Pesky details.

Governor Snyder vetoed the legislation that would put this citizenship question on the ballot precicely because it could cause confusion. Now I hate to use Governor Snyder to support my position, especially since I think his veto was kabuki, but damned if he wasn’t [accidentally] right. Stephen Henderson:

So the governor was right — all this just meant unnecessary confusion at the polls Tuesday. Voter advocate groups got calls all day asking about the citizenship issue. I’ve heard from people who didn’t see the question on their ballots and weren’t asked, and from others who did see it and were told to fill it in. Rich Robinson, who heads the Michigan Campaign Finance network, got turned away from the polls when he refused to answer the citizenship question.

And that’s how voter intimidation works. You create laws that are unclear and unnecessary, and you enforce them randomly and unevenly.

It was so bad that Ruth Johnson had to change course in the middle of the election. From Gongwer:

Amid Confusion, Dept. Of State Changes Course On Citizenship Question

Legislation that would have put into statute the requirement for voters to answer the citizenship question, and procedures on how to handle voters who refuse to answer it, was vetoed recently by Governor Rick Snyder.

However, on Monday, the Department of State sent out a bulletin to local clerks reminding them for today’s election to follow the guidance it provided on January 20 for the February election. That guidance for voters at the polls refusing to answer the question was, “Ask voter to respond, if he/she refuses – inspectors will have to swear the voter in under the standard challenge process to determine citizenship status. If voter answers ‘no’ or refuses to answer during the challenge process – Do NOT issue a ballot. Place application to vote in the clerk’s envelope, make a note in the remarks section of poll book and on the QVF list alerting the local clerk that follow-up is necessary.”

But before noon today, as reports of problems erupted, Elections Director Chris Thomas sent out an email with a new bulletin to local clerks.

“If the voter refuses to fill in either YES or NO in response to this question, read this statement: ‘Under the Michigan Constitution and election laws you must be a citizen of the United States in order to vote.’ Then issue a ballot to the voter. Our objective in providing the citizenship question is to place non-citizens who have inadvertently registered to vote on notice that it is not proper for them to vote. By reading the statement above to those who refuse to indicate that they are a citizen, you have placed them on notice that a non-citizen cannot vote.”

So on Monday the Secretary of State doubled down on the citizenship question and said no ballot if you don’t answer. On Tuesday, 5 hours into voting, the Secretary of State gently shifted from “no ballot” to “ballot, with statement about the law.”

Even the poll workers were confused by the Ruth Johnson shenanigans.

Like Stephen Henderson said, that’s how voter intimidation works.

More –

State elections chief says affirming citizenship not required to vote

Legal voters refused ballots

There are no cover bands in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Follow me on Twitter - @christinebarry
Christine
View all posts by Christine   
Christine Website