LANSING – The Michigan Legislative Black Caucus (MLBC) vehemently opposes House Bill 6066, and urges the Michigan Senate to reject legislation that will ultimately suppress the voting rights of Michigan’s poor and elderly citizens.

The bill, passed last night by the Michigan House of Representatives on a predominantly 57-50 partisan vote, requires voters who fail to produce a photo ID on Election Day to do so within 10 days, or have their ballots disqualified. They will have to personally travel to their local clerk’s office to prove their identity, or be penalized by having their vote thrown out. The bill now heads to the Michigan Senate.

 Under current law, voters who fail to produce a photo ID can sign an affidavit attesting to their identity and (unless challenged) their ballots are treated as if an ID had been shown.

“The proponents have placed an undue and oppressive burden on thousands of elderly, low-income, and minority Americans to remedy a so-called ‘problem’ that’s never been proven to exist,” said Rep. Sheldon A. Neeley (D-Flint), MLBC chairman.  “The reasons given for this bill are a pretext for actions clearly designed to suppress the vote,” he added.

“The underlying racism in these bills was brazenly defended last night,” said state Representative LaTanya Garrett (D-Detroit). “We cannot allow the continual, widespread disenfranchisement of our state’s most vulnerable. The bedrock of our democracy is equal access to secure, modern elections, so to pass legislation that effectively silences voices in our state, and strips them of that access, is a slap in the face to our democratic system. It is my hope that the Senate sees these bills for what they are and promptly dismisses them.”

The MLBC continues to believe that this bill is designed to suppress the vote of the poor, elderly and disabled by creating unnecessary obstacles to exercising a fundamental right. We ask the Senate to reject the proposed legislation, and instead propose alternatives that will increase participation in the election process.

If the bill passes, we ask that Gov. Rick Snyder acknowledge the insidious and onerous nature of this legislation, and veto this bill to affirm Michigan’s commitment to an open and fair election process.