Duplicate identification numbers open the door to bad actors to steal or nullify your vote. Here’s how duplicates come about and how to stop them from falling into the wrong hands.
The State of Michigan has 8.2 million registrants on the Qualified Voter File as of July 2023. To be eligible to register to vote in Michigan, an individual must be a U.S. Citizen, at least 17 ½ years of age, a resident of the state, and a resident of the township or city where they register.
According to Michigan law, MCL 168.495, the registration application must contain the applicant’s name, address (including apartment number, rural route and box number, city or township, and county), birthdate, driver license or state personal identification card number, status of citizenship, location of last registration, and the applicant’s signature. After the information is verified and the applicant qualifies, the applicant is registered and issued a voter ID number unique to that individual in that state.
This voter ID number then generates additional data, such as registration date, the location of registration, and links to other information already in state and federal databases regarding the registrant. Information attached to a driver’s license or vehicle registration from the Secretary of State’s office includes, among other information, enhanced driver license data and enhanced official state personal identification, plus the person’s gender and social security number.
This unique voter ID number is supposed to follow an individual when he or she moves within the state or has a name change. If an individual is issued more than one voter ID number, they need to notify the local township or city clerk’s office immediately to have it corrected. The election official will be able to see other personal identifying information associated with the voter ID numbers in question (for example the person’s birthdate, driver’s license number, and social security number) to determine if a duplicate ID number was issued.
Below are examples of what duplicates may look like:
Full middle name vs. middle initial only (Same first and last name, year of birth, and address):
Married and changed last name (Same first and middle names, year of birth, and address):
A duplicate voter ID number may occur if a person moves to another local jurisdiction or county in the state of Michigan and the local clerk of the former jurisdiction is not notified. These mistakes happen for a few reasons and will be addressed in a future article. Suffice it to say registrants should notify their local clerk when they move. They need to let the clerk know of their new address and request to be removed from their old address.
Why eliminating duplicate IDs is important
Much as we all would like to trust others, incidents like the nefarious 20-state registration ring that operated in Muskegon before the 2020 election serve as reminders.
Elections can shift the balance of power and money, so they attract bad actors hellbent on affecting election outcomes.
They can request address changes online and have ballots for duplicate IDs mailed to another address.
Don’t let bad actors influence election outcomes. If you or someone you know moved as far back as 20 years ago, check out Checkmyvote.org. See if those who moved are still registered to that incorrect address. If so, and if this is your home address, alert your local clerk. Tell him or her that a voter is listed as residing at your address and does not live there. The clerk can remove their names. If the phantom voter lives at another address, alert the homeowner and let them know to notify the clerk and have these names removed.
Protect your vote and others. Don’t let bad actors cancel your vote or other valid votes.
If a duplicate voter ID number was issued, the local clerk may be able to merge the two records. Otherwise, the clerk may notify the Secretary of State’s office to request a merge of the records.
If you live in the state of Michigan:
Checkmyvote.org (CMV) obtains QVF data each month from the Michigan Secretary of State’s office. Then CMV provides a free online service to check voter QVF information either by name or address. A person may look up their current address as well as the address they moved from if both are in Michigan. All individuals currently listed as registrants to vote will be listed at that address.
Go to Checkmyvote.org or https://checkmyvote.org/audit-my-address
MFE hopes this information on the Voter Identification number has been helpful. Stay tuned for future articles on the Qualified Voter File.
Anne Hill serves on MFE’s Board of Directors and its Communications Team. She holds an Executive Master of Business Administration degree from Northwood University’s Graduate School of Management and is a 16-year resident of the City of East Lansing,