Bill could repeal law requiring voter card, license to match
A new bill could make voting easier for out-of-state MSU students.
State Rep. Rebekah Warren, D-Ann Arbor, introduced a bill to Michigan’s House of Representatives last week that would repeal Rogers’ Law, which requires Michigan voters to have the address listed on their driver’s license match the address on their voter registration card.
Rogers’ Law can be a barrier to students who wish to vote on issues that would affect East Lansing but have an address in another community listed as their primary address, Warren said.
What it does: Requires all Michigan voters have the same address on their driver’s licenses and voter registration.
When it was enacted: U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Brighton, first introduced the bill in 1998 when he was a member of the Michigan Senate. It passed in the House and Senate the following year.
Whom it affects: College students living away from their hometown especially out-of-state students, who made up 8 percent of MSU’s students in 2007.
How it affects: Students must vote absentee if they do not want to change the address on their driver’s license.
Who opposes it: State Rep. Rebekah Warren, D-Ann Arbor, introduced a bill to Michigan’s House of Representatives to reinstate the right to have both a driver’s license address and voter registration address.
Sources: Office of U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, Office of State Rep. Rebekah Warren, MSU
“For a student, so much of financial aid coverage is based on the fact that you, as a dependent, have the same mailing address as your parents,” she said. “If you were to change your voter registration to your campus address, it automatically flips your driver’s license to the same thing.”
Warren said some students have lost their medical coverage because they attempted to vote on campus while maintaining another permanent address.
But Sylvia Warner, spokeswoman for U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Brighton, said Rogers’ Law alleviated complicated voter registration lists. Before the law was introduced in 1999, there were two separate databases for individuals’ voting address and the permanent address listed on their driver’s license.
The law does not prevent students from voting absentee, she said.
“Our military people who are overseas also vote by absentee,” Warner said. “You would think it would be a lot harder for them than students right there in the states, and they still do that.”
Legislators have introduced a bill to repeal Rogers’ Law every two years since it was introduced, Warner said.
Warren introduced the same bill in 2008. The bill passed through Michigan’s House, but stalled in the Senate, she said.
“It didn’t go anywhere last year so we have to be realistic, but we’re very hopeful,” she said.
One of the reasons MSU’s YouVote Initiative began was because Rogers’ Law confused many students about voting policies during the 2000 election, said John Dowell, professor of WRA 135 and a charter member of the initiative.
He said YouVote reminds students what their voting options are to help avoid the confusion.
Several out-of-state MSU students said that they did not feel the effects of Rogers’ Law during the November election.
English junior Paul Henderson, who is from Appleton, Maine, said he did not have any problems casting his vote in Clinton County.
“I didn’t vote absentee, and everything’s still fine,” he said. “I wasn’t questioned on my Maine I.D. … and I haven’t gotten any calls about ‘you need to make this an official order.’”
Apparel and textile design junior Julie Adamski, who is originally from Chicago, said she chose to vote absentee in Illinois’ election and avoided any potential problems had she attempted to vote in East Lansing.
Adamski said many out-of-state students might not be concerned about Rogers’ Law if they feel more affected by issues in their hometown, because they would be more inclined to vote absentee there instead of East Lansing.
“I live in big city, so obviously there’s a lot more going on there than in a smaller city,” she said. “I plan to keep voting in Chicago.”