Non-citizen voting no problem in Ottawa County

Alex Doty • Jul 21, 2015 at 11:40 AM

“It has definitely been a topic on the news regularly regarding citizenship of the registered voters,” Ottawa County elections coordinator Justin Roebuck said.

In July, Gov. Rick Snyder vetoed legislation that was aimed to prevent voting fraud by requiring a voter to reaffirm U.S. citizenship before receiving a ballot and requiring photo ID when picking up an absentee ballot from a city office.

Snyder said while he appreciates the issue of ensuring that voters are eligible and U.S. citizens, he thought the legislation could create voter confusion among absentee voters.

“That question is on the form, but it’s not something that has to be answered under the law,” Roebuck said of voting applications and absentee ballot forms. “We are kind of in a limbo phase.”

Roebuck and Grand Haven City Clerk Linda Schmidt said the source of the ineligible voters likely occurs unknowingly when people fill out voter registration forms when getting a new driver’s license.

“I know we’ve had one before where the person didn’t know what they were signing and then it came through,” Schmidt said. “That is what has happened in the past.”

Added Roebuck: “This is more of a clerical error than a fraud case.”

This fall, Roebuck and Schmidt said voters will be asked to check off whether or not they are a U.S. citizen.

“It is possible, and the reason to (put that question on the application) was to put that at the forefront,” Roebuck said. “Currently, there is nothing to stop someone.”

There would be no way of knowing if someone was a U.S. citizen or not unless that question was answered, he said.

While efforts are being made, instances of non-U.S. citizens voting in elections are rare.

To read more of this story, see today’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.

Recommended for You