MI Sec. of State Under Fire for Error Possibly Affecting Thousands

A watchdog group is filing a Freedom of Information Act request for more information after learning tens of thousands of people in Michigan may have voter addresses that do not match those on their drivers’ licenses, meaning they may face some obstacles at the polls on November 6.

Michigan law requires you change the address on your driver’s license or state identification card when you move. In doing so, the qualified voter file should be updated by the Secretary of State (SOS) to reflect the new address so your license matches your voter registration card. If you fail to change your address, your license may be suspended.

“From the information we have been told, that update didn’t happen in a number of cases, potentially tens of thousands,” said Lonnie Scott, executive director of Progress Michigan, the group that filed a request for more information through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). “When those people go to the polls, the residence address they give may not match the address in the voter file because of this error by the Secretary of State … (and) they may be barred from voting.”

The consequences of inconsistent information between a voter and the state depends on what exactly the discrepancy is, and to what degree there are differences.

At the very least, it has the potential to cause confusion over an individual’s voting precinct. In the case that an individual is not listed for their precinct, the person can receive a provisional ballot, though that isn’t counted as an actual ballot until the voter turns it in to their clerk’s office no later than the sixth calendar day after the election.

But with the provisional ballot, the individual must satisfy the identification requirement (A Michigan Driver License; a Michigan Personal Identification Card; any other type of government issued identification card which shows your picture; or an identification card issued by a Michigan university or college which shows your picture) or the proof of residency (same forms of ID, as well as a current utility bill; bank statement; paycheck/government check; or any other government document showing your name and address).

Progress Michigan also said it has knowledge of an “emergency meeting” that took place with Secretary of State employees regarding the situation on October 18 – nine days after the voter registration deadline – hence why the group is seeking more information about that meeting, as well as any communications about the internal error.

It was not immediately clear whether the people affected are all located within a particular geographic area or if it was statewide.

More information on the process for voters who do not appear on the precinct’s registration list can be viewed here. To check where you are registered, to view your sample ballot, or to track the status of your absentee ballot, click here.

The Great Lakes Beacon will update this story as more information becomes available.



Editor’s Note: The Great Lakes Beacon is a project of Progress Michigan.

Danielle Emerson

Danielle Emerson