Voters at the recent Michigan primary had a large surprise when they went to the polls on February 28. Instead of just being asked to choose the best presidential candidate, all voters were also asked for their citizenship status.
According to Gisgie Gendreau, the spokeswoman for Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson, the question was added to the ballots to further ensure that the election results were fair. Interestingly, a bill is currently being discussed in the legislature over the legitimacy of this question, although it has not passed.
The move is an interesting one for the state, whose governor, Rick Snyder, has long been a proponent of immigration rights and opportunities.
Despite the legislation, many believe that the measure will have little affect in the polls.
“Requiring voters to affirm their citizenship again at the polls is a solution in search of a problem,” said Melanie McElroy, executive director of Common Cause of Michigan. “This new requirement will only confuse longtime voters who affirmed their citizenship when they registered to vote for the first time.”
Spokeswoman Gendreau also commented that voters who come to polls will be issued a ballot, regardless of whether they choose to answer the question.
However, when Frank Houston, Oakland County’s Democratic party chairman, refused to sign the question of U.S. citizenship, his ballot was marked as challenged. The government official is against the question being part of the voting process, because the state’s immigration population is not that large compared to others.
“We don’t have a rampant problem with undocumented workers in Michigan,” Houston told The Detroit News. “This is clearly a solution looking for a problem that just doesn’t exist in Michigan.”