Will Michigan Attorney General block student voters? County clerk to drive 170 miles “just in case”
The Macomb County Clerk / Register of Deeds (D-Warren) will drive 170 miles this afternoon to make sure Krysta Kornack of Warren and Jeanne and Katie Oxendine of Sterling Heights will not be prevented from voting. Kornack, a student at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, registered to vote on campus, and applied for an absent voter ballot. But her request was denied by her local clerk in accordance with Michigan law because she did not show a photo ID when she registered to vote. Kornack then went to the Ottawa County Clerk, the nearest county clerk office, showed photo ID, received an “In Person ID Verification” and applied again for an absent voter ballot.
But Kornack’s second request for an absent voter ballot was put at risk last week when the Michigan Senate Majority Leader asked the Attorney General to stop first-time voters, whose photo IDs were verified by county clerks, from getting absent voter ballots.
Jeanne and Katie Oxendine attend Hope College and want to cast an absent voter ballot because they will not be able to return home to vote. Jeanne registered to vote by mail, but showed her photo ID at the Ottawa County Clerk’s office. Katie registered to vote in person at a Secretary of State office.
The Attorney General issued an “informational letter” arguing the photo ID verifications performed by county clerks are invalid. The letter puts him at odds with the Michigan Secretary of State and 65 of the state’s 83 county clerks. The large group of bipartisan county clerks started a cross deputization program to verify photo IDs of first-time voters. The program applies equally across the state because any county clerk could participate at no cost.
“Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land deserves credit for standing up to the Attorney General, and Ottawa County Clerk Daniel Krueger deserves credit for leading the county clerk effort,” said the Macomb County Clerk. “The Attorney General should not be making it harder for decent citizens to vote.”
“Geography should not impair the right to vote,” said Daniel Krueger, Ottawa County Clerk (R-Holland Twp.) “My hope is that the Attorney General will understand the desire young people have to participate in the greatest process our country has and allow our cross deputization process to be an incentive to voters by allowing our photo ID verification process to continue.”
“I want to vote because I have two years left at college and this election will affect my future,” said Krysta Kornack a Grand Valley State University student from Warren. “I play on the Grand Valley Lakers Volleyball team and after practice would not be able to get home in time on Election Day.”
“I think easy accessibility to voting and absentee ballots are essential for students and first time voters. I want to be sure that my vote is valid because I am graduating from college this year and as I enter the work force the outcomes of this election will significantly affect me,” said Katie Oxendine. “I am currently student teaching and due to this commitment would not be able to make it home in time and then back to school again on Election Day.”
The AG informational letter has no legal precedence. But there is a risk the Michigan Attorney General will turn the letter into a formal opinion that might stop the county clerks’ cross deputization program and disenfranchise many first-time voters who will be unable to get home to vote in person on Election Day.
The Macomb County Clerk agrees with Saginaw County Clerk Sue Kaltenbach who said, “Unless we’re told to actually cease and desist, we’ll continue.”
The Macomb County Clerk and Krueger will meet Kornack at the Grand Valley State University Kirkhof Center at 3:30 pm this afternoon. They will then meet the Oxendine’s at Hope College DeWitt Center a little after 4 pm, and drive the students to the nearest Secretary of State branch office in Holland where the students will show a photo ID to further satisfy the “in person” and photo ID requirements. (The nearest Secretary of State office to the Grand Valley Allendale campus is eight miles away.)
The Macomb County Clerk hopes her trip will focus public attention on this issue and help convince the Attorney General not to issue a formal opinion.
“Until the Michigan Attorney General says he won’t invalidate the photo ID verifications of students, first-time student voters who want an absent voter ballot should show a photo ID at a Secretary of State office,” said the Macomb County Clerk.
Photo Editor’s Note: The Macomb County Clerk and Krueger will pick up students Tuesday, October 28, 2008:
3:30 p.m. GVSU Kirkhof Center, 110 Kirkhof Center, 1 Campus Drive, Allendale, MI 49401.
4:10 p.m. at Hope College DeWitt Center, 141 E. 12th St., Holland, MI 49423, and drive to
4:35 p.m. Secretary of State branch office at 587 E 8th Street, Holland, MI 49423.
Out of State: 310-575-5035