ACLU Accuses Detroit Clerk of 'Misinformation Campaign' on Voter ID

November 07, 2016, 12:42 PM by  Allan Lengel

Detroit Clerk Janice Winfrey

The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, based in Detroit, fired off a sharply worded letter on Monday criticizing Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey for carrying out a "misinformation campaign" by repeatedly telling residents incorrectly that they must have an ID to vote on Tuesday.

The letter, signed by Legal Director Michael J. Steinberg and Deputy Legal Director Dan Korobkin, says:

The ACLU of Michigan is extremely disappointed and frustrated by the fact that you continue to tell Michiganders that they cannot vote unless they have picture ID. This information is not only false, but it can cause the disfranchisement of thousands of eligible Detroit voters who do not have picture ID or forget to bring it with them to the polls.

Although voters who do not have ID may vote in Michigan, you insist on telling voters that they cannot vote unless they have ID. For example, on Oct. 28, in an extended interview on Fox 2 News, you said the following:

“It’s state law that [voters] need to bring a current, government issued ID. That can be a driver’s lincense, a state ID, a school ID. Anything that’s a legal, current identification -- picture identification.”

The letter adds: 

Your misinformation campaign is extremely frustrating to civil rights organizations like the ACLU that fight to make sure that every eligible voter is able to vote. The ACLU has successfully fought state laws across the country that require picture ID on the ground that such laws disproportionately prevent people of color, the elderly and individuals with disabilities from voting.

In Michigan, however, we should not have to have this fight because, in Michigan, picture ID is not required to vote. Registered voters are able to vote in Michigan without picture ID if either (1) they do not possess picture ID, or (2) they did not bring picture ID with them to the polls. All these voters must do to vote is sign a simple affidavit form at the polls and their ballot will be counted. In most precincts, these forms are printed on the back side of the voter application that every voter must sign.

The Detroit chapter's executive director also spreads the word at Twitter:

Attempts to get through by phone to the clerk's office on Monday for comment were unsuccessful.

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