DETROIT (Talk Radio 1270) Should Michigan residents have to check off a box on their ballot application certifying they’re legal United States citizens?
Macomb County Clerk Carmella Sabaugh says “no.”
Sabaugh visited the Charlie Langton Talk Radio 1270 show this week to explain why she’s defying Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson, a Republican who added the citizenship check-off box on the form. Sabaugh says it’s “redundant,” and objects to Johnson adding it to the form over Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, also a Republican, who had vetoed the legislative proposal.
A group of voters’ rights activists have sued Johnson over her addition of the citizenship check-off box on applications to vote, but she’s standing by it. “The secretary is committed to making sure qualified voters get the opportunity to vote on election day,” a spokeswoman for Johnson said to Langton.
“As far as I know, there’s no law that gives her authority to do that,” Langton said on his show, adding, “There’s no law, no authority she has.”
Sabaugh, a Democrat, added she’s not expressly supporting the lawsuit against Johnson, saying “that’s separate from what I’m doing as a county clerk, I’m abiding by the governor’s veto and I think that’s going to stand.”
On the form, applicants already had to certify they’re 18 years of age, a U.S. citizen, and have lived in the community for at least 30 days.
“It is a felony if someone votes and is not a citizen,” Sabaugh said. “I don’t see them coming to the polls showing a photo ID knowing that they are (not eligible).”
Johnson has said the box eliminates voter fraud and prevents non-citizens from voting.
“I really don’t believe that,” Sabaugh said. “Certainly, Ruth, I was surprised she defied the governor’s veto. As you said, she had no authority to override the governor’s veto.”
Caller Bruce from Rochester Hills said, “This is an absolutely illegal question … I hope that other clerks will join Carmella and defy Ruth Johnson on this … She is breaking the law, pure and simple, and I hope the lawsuit is successful.”
Sabaugh said the form addition will just slow down the voting process and add more work for poll workers.
“I know from high school civics the secretary of state cannot override the governor’s veto, and I think the voters should know with that question, they’re already affirming that when they fill out the application,” Sabaugh said.
A Shelby Township resident weighed in on Johnson’s side, saying, “Basically, what I don’t understand is according to (the law) the secretary of state has the authority to prescribe the forms used in the election, does she not? So if she has that authority I’m failing to understand why you’re disregarding basically your supervisor.”
Sabaugh said he was wrong. “She cannot add just whatever she wants to that form,” Sabaugh said. “The governor wouldn’t have vetoed that if she had that authority.”