Citizenship question on ballot application causing stir - WNEM TV 5

Citizenship question on ballot application causing stir

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GENESEE COUNTY, MI (WNEM) -

Election officials in Mid-Michigan said that a new proposal by Secretary of State Ruth Johnson that would add a citizenship question to the ballot is unnecessary because non-citizen voting is not a problem in their counties.

The proposal would add the question: "Are you a U.S. Citizen?" to ballot applications in the state of Michigan.

Genesee County Clerk Michael Carr believes the measure is an attempt to prevent people from voting.

"I think it's voter suppression," Carr stated. "I hope I'm wrong," he added.

Fred Woodhams, a spokesman from Johnson's office, said that the measure is intended to prevent non-citizens from accidentally voting, which is a felony.

"There was a Canadian national who has been casting ballots... that citizenship checkbox prevented him in February from casting a ballot," Woodhams explained.

Woodhams added that there was another case where a west Michigan man accidentally voted and thus jeopardized his application for citizenship.

The ACLU has filed a lawsuit challenging Johnson's authority to add the checkbox to the ballot application.

The city of Detroit has announced it plans to remove the citizenship question requirement from its ballot application, citing a previous veto from Gov. Rick Snyder regarding this same issue.

In Mid-Michigan, county clerks from Midland, Bay, Saginaw and Genesee counties told TV5 that voters will still be allowed to cast a ballot even if they choose to ignore the question, which is also a directive from the secretary of state.

Woodhams said that the purpose of having the question on the application and not enforcing it is to give those who may not be citizens "one last chance" to know their rights.

Copyright 2012 WNEM (Meredith Corporation) and The Associated Press.  All rights reserved.

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