Voter ID Ballot Measures Face Pressing Deadlines, Progressive Counterinitiatives, Lawsuits

By John Haughey
John Haughey
John Haughey
John Haughey has been a working journalist since 1978 with an extensive background in local government, state legislatures, and growth and development. A graduate of the University of Wyoming, he is a Navy veteran who fought fires at sea during three deployments aboard USS Constellation. He’s been a reporter for daily newspapers in California, Washington, Wyoming, New York, and Florida; a staff writer for Manhattan-based business trade publications.
March 18, 2022 Updated: March 24, 2022

When the Arizona House on Feb. 28 approved a resolution to place a proposed statute expanding voter identification requirements on November’s ballot, it became the first election integrity measure to qualify for a public referendum in 2022.

Sponsors of similar citizen-initiated proposed voter ID statutes and constitutional amendments are collecting signatures in four states—Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, and Nevada—but face encroaching deadlines, progressive countermeasures, and legal challenges.

The certainty of time-consuming, costly litigation convinced sponsors of a California voter ID initiative to delay their effort until 2024. Nevada’s prospective constitutional amendment requiring a photo ID to vote has drawn a lawsuit from the Elias Law Group, the Washington firm of Marc Elias, a prominent election law attorney who works with Democrats.

Arizona’s voter ID ballot measure, and petition drives for similar proposals in four states, are among 14 election integrity proposals in seven states that may go before voters this year—including two others in Arizona that address post-election audits and pre-election scrutiny of voter rolls, among other initiatives.

As of March 17, voters in at least 19 states will decide on 43 measures on 2022 ballots, according to Ballotpedia, with organizers eying to qualify as many as 250 more proposals across 30 states. Marijuana legalization, sports gaming, ranked voting, and ‘No Right to Abortion’ initiatives are among the most common topics.

Thirty-six states have laws requesting or requiring voters to show some form of identification at the polls, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. North Carolina’s law has been blocked by an injunction since Dec. 31, 2019.

While the remaining 14 states use other methods to verify voter identity, proponents of enhanced ID requirements say that, without new standards, voters will lose confidence in the electoral system. They cite numerous polls showing that more than 80 percent of Americans support requiring a government-issued photo ID.

Opponents argue there is little fraud in the current system. They say proposed ID measures and election integrity efforts burden voters, unduly restrict the right to vote, and impose unnecessary costs and burdens on state and local elections officials.

With spring approaching, citizen-initiated petition drives will kick into high gear to get ballot measures before voters this fall, or in some states in August for primary elections.

Arizona: The state legislature essentially adopted Arizonans for Voter ID’s proposed Voter Identification Requirements for Mail-In Ballots and In-Person Voting Measure in a resolution and placed it on the ballot, saving the Arizona Free Enterprise Club-sponsored group from needing to collect 237,645 valid voter signatures by July 7 to put the proposal before voters.

In addition to the existing signature requirement, the measure requires date of birth and voter identification number for mail-in ballots that election officials would check against voter registration records, and eliminates a two-document alternative to photo ID for in-person voting.

AZVoterID is planning “a very active campaign to ensure people know what this issue is about,” Arizona Free Enterprise Club President Scot Mussi said on March 17. The group expects to battle “misinformation” from opponents, but is certain the measure will pass.

“Based on polling we have done” and feedback from volunteers in the field, “we find that the support is overwhelming—80 percent support universal ID requirements,” he said, noting that the measure has bipartisan “majority support among all groups” of nearly all political persuasions.

“We find that, when talking to people about this issue, that voter ID just makes common sense,” Mussi said. Voter ID is “a cornerstone of the election integrity issue.”

Arizonans for Voter ID isn’t associated with two other election integrity petition drives in progress in the state—the Voter ID, Absentee Ballot Notarization, and Hand-Counting Votes Initiative and Voter ID for Mail-In Ballots Initiative.

Arizonans for Free and Fair Elections is collecting signatures for a ballot countermeasure, the Election and Voting Policies Initiative, which would “protect” expanded voting rights.

Michigan: There are at least 17 measures seeking space on the ballot, including four that address election integrity, with two that would expand voting rights. Proposed constitutional amendments need 425,059 signatures and prospective state statutes must have 340,047 signatures by June 1 to be added to the November ballot.

Ypsilanti-based Secure MI Vote is sponsoring two measures—the Voter ID Initiative and Forensic Election Audits Initiative—which would require forensic audits of elections, including of the 2020 election.

The Voter ID proposal would require that voters present IDs to vote in person and to request absentee ballots. The measure would remove an exemption that allows those without IDs to submit affidavits and require partial Social Security numbers for voter registration, and prohibit the Michigan secretary of state or local elections clerks from “sending or providing access to” mail-in ballots—unless specifically requested by voters.

The ballot measures are essentially a package of 2021 election integrity bills adopted by Michigan’s GOP-controlled legislature and vetoed by Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. Under a unique-to-Michigan state law, if a petition to change or create a state statute secures 340,047 signatures, the legislature can adopt the proposal in chamber votes, sidestepping the governor.

“If that gathers enough signatures, it would go to the legislature, which could enact reforms,” said Honest Elections Project Executive Director Jason Snead. “It’s an interesting state law.”

Secure MI Vote spokesman Jamie Roe, of Team Roe, said on March 17 that the group has “about a quarter” of the needed 340,000 signatures, but is gearing up for a frantic spring petition drive. It will be an “uphill slog,” he said, but a recently begun direct-mailing campaign that sent “petitions to hundreds or thousands of voters” should boost those numbers.

“So people have those petitions in their homes. We urge them to sign them and send them back. Everyone is helpful,” he said. “Turn them around and send them back. For people who want secure elections, this is the best way to do it.”

With spring coming, “on-the-street” efforts are also ramping up.

“We have a volunteer army out doing it,” Roe said, before noting that it’s a “challenge to find labor” to volunteer. “We have forces on the left who are paying people in the petition-circulation business, and paying them not to work on our effort,” which is “a new and interesting” tactic he fears will “become standard practice by the left.”

Progressives have their own countermeasures, spearheaded by Promote The Vote—the Voting Rights Amendment, which would need 425,059 signatures by July 11, and the Right to Vote Initiative.

Missouri: We The People of Missouri is sponsoring a Changes to Voting Procedures Initiative that would require a government-issued photo ID, prohibit the use of machines to tabulate votes, require hand counts of votes, permit 14 days of early voting, allow poll observers, allow the state legislature to adjust or void vote totals, and make voter fraud “a crime of treason.”

The group needs 107,246 signatures by May 8 to get the citizen-initiated state statute on the November ballot.

Nebraska: Citizens for Voter ID is sponsoring a Voter Identification Initiative that would amend the state Constitution to require a valid photographic identification in order to vote. Voters currently don’t need to present identification. The proposal needs 122,274 signatures by July 7 to get on the ballot.

GOP gubernatorial candidate Michael Connely is among the sponsors of another prospective election integrity measure, the Election Review Judicial Panel Amendment, which would establish a panel of three judges to review election proceedings before results can be certified.

Connely is among sponsors of 10 prospective 2022 ballot measures that include “Stand Your Ground”; expanded concealed carry, so “you can bring guns into church”; an “unorganized militia” measure that ensures “the Feds cannot touch your weapons”; immunity from prosecution for using a firearm for self-defense, “think Kyle Rittenhouse”; a “governors overview initiative” to issue executive orders that overrule “any dictatorial local orders and level out the power a little bit by taking out the small local dictators”; and to make helmets optional for motorcyclists.

The election integrity ballot measure should find traction among parents’ rights groups during viewings of “The Mind Polluters” movie and gun-owner rights advocates that Connely plans to recruit.

“We will start in April, doing a town-by-town road trip for the whole month, signing up [gun] store owners” to not only support the three gun-owners’ rights ballot measures, but the proposed election integrity amendment, he said. “I have broken the state into 26 different areas, each with its own initiative manager. We are continuously picking up new volunteers, then we add events,” such as a recent Grand Candidate Forum in York.

“There will be 10 of us onstage,” Connely said. “I will call for anyone interested, anyone who wants to help me clean it up, to go through registrations county by county. It is very simple to take all the steps to clear off all the voters who are dead and should not be on” the rolls.

“One lady just pulled 11 people off [voter rolls] in a very small town” who had either moved or died.

Connely said Citizens for Voter ID’s Voter ID amendment is “very, very weak and watered down. Had I known how weak it was, I would have” sponsored one.

Nevada: North Las Vegas-based Repair the Vote PAC is sponsoring a Voter ID and Verification Initiative and Voting Policies Referendum. Both need 140,779 signatures by June 29 and to survive a lawsuit to get on November’s ballot.

The prospective Voter ID measure would amend Nevada’s Constitution to require a photo ID when voting in person and require voter verification when voting by mail, using the last four digits of a voter’s driver’s license, the last four digits of their Social Security number, or the last four digits of their voter registration number.

The Voting Policies measure seeks a referendum on a 2020 bill that authorized automatically sending mail-in ballots to all registered voters, permitted ballot harvesting, and counted ballots received without a legible postmark on election day. If adopted, it would essentially ban mail-in ballots.

“We are ramping up,” said Repair the Vote Executive Director David Gibbs on March 17. “We have volunteers working across the state in all the different counties. The biggest challenge is Clark County, and we have over 100 volunteers” set to hit the streets and set up booths at events.

“I think we can” secure the needed 140,779 signatures by June 29, he said. “We are having very few people say ‘no.’ We’re getting success across all political parties. This polls better than 80 percent across the country and here in Nevada.

A former Clark County Republican Central Committee chair, Gibbs said the biggest challenge isn’t gathering signatures or getting the measures passed in November, but surviving two lawsuits seeking to stymie the initiatives filed by Elias, who was also general counsel for the 2016 Hilary Clinton campaign.

“They are suing us to change the wording on the [Voter ID] proposal,” he said, noting if the petition’s language is changed, “people who’ve already signed would be invalidated.”

The suits seek an injunction against the Voting Policies measure, claiming Repair the Vote’s official description as restoring voter integrity is “misleading.”

Sigal Chattah, a Republican attorney general candidate, has filed a motion to intervene on behalf of Repair the Vote.

“Our attorneys are engaged,” Gibbs said. “We are moving forward. We are collecting signatures.”

John Haughey
John Haughey has been a working journalist since 1978 with an extensive background in local government, state legislatures, and growth and development. A graduate of the University of Wyoming, he is a Navy veteran who fought fires at sea during three deployments aboard USS Constellation. He’s been a reporter for daily newspapers in California, Washington, Wyoming, New York, and Florida; a staff writer for Manhattan-based business trade publications.