Michigan House GOP tries electoral reform again, despite Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s likely veto

The package – similar to measures already opposed by Whitmer last year – will almost certainly fail.

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“Michigan has strong voter protections in place, including strong and effective voter ID laws, which are working as evidenced by the fact that we just had the most secure, accessible and accessible election. highest in our state’s history,” Whitmer spokesman Bobby Leddy said. statement in Bridge Michigan on Thursday.

The introduction of such measures is part of a broader campaign to reshape election administration processes by GOP lawmakers in legislatures across the country — a wave of efforts amplified by unsubstantiated claims that a Massive voter fraud undermined the 2020 election. In Michigan, more than 250 post-election audits by local officials found no evidence of widespread voter fraud, and a recent review by the Office of the Auditor General of the State revealed that more than 99.9% of all ballots in the 2020 elections were correctly cast and counted.

Nevertheless, efforts to obtain stricter electoral rules continued to gain ground. Two Republicans won the primaries after echoing false allegations of widespread voter fraud. A conservative petition group, Secure MI Vote, hopes to garner enough signatures to pass legislation tightening voting rules without the governor’s approval.

Liberal groups, on the other hand, have called these efforts voter suppression. A coalition of groups launched Promote the Vote 2022 – a ballot committee seeking a constitutional amendment to expand voter access and loosen voting restrictions.

Republican lawmakers on Thursday introduced the legislative package as a way to bolster public confidence in the state’s election administration process.

“Free, fair and secure elections are the foundation of our democratic republic,” said Rep. Julie Alexander, R-Hanover, sponsor of a bill that would require poll workers to certify their political party affiliation. “My (bill) will further increase voter confidence through improved transparency regarding election workers.”

But several Democrats have argued that the measures would disenfranchise voters of color and make it harder for older citizens and people with disabilities to vote.

“These bills are nothing but the suppression of modern-day voters and interfere with one of the most fundamental rights of our democracy — their right to vote,” Rep. Brenda Carter, D-Pontiac, told the House. Thursday.

The bills also received opposition from Democratic Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson’s office. Opponents of the measures have argued that the bills could mean more workloads for local employees, according to a House fiscal analysis of one measure.

Benson’s spokeswoman, Tracy Wimmer, told Bridge Michigan that the bills are “rooted in misinformation” and demonstrate “how completely out of touch many members of the House are with the real needs of those administering our field elections.

“It’s time Michigan’s legislative leaders stop using their bills as vehicles to delve into conspiracy theories, and instead listen to the experts on how to truly strengthen and increase accessibility for our elections,” Wimmer said in a statement Thursday.

What would each bill do?

House Bill 5288, sponsored by Rep. Andrew Beeler, R-Fort Gratiot, would require those who wish to vote by mail to physically sign their ballot applications instead of offering electronic signatures. It would also allow voters to request absentee ballots in person, by mail, by email or by fax. The mail-in ballot application would not be available under this bill more than 75 days before an election. There are no limits on when ballots can be sent out under current law.

The proposal echoes Republican opposition to a rule from Benson’s office that allows voters to request mail-in ballots online. Rep. Steve Carra, a Republican from Three Rivers and the House Majority Vice Chairman of the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules, said in a statement last week that the practice “undermine(s) the integrity of elections by manipulating our stringent signature-matching laws”.

Benson’s office rejected several rule changes recommended by the Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules, saying the Republican-backed proposals “would restrict voting rights.”

“I will not allow a small group of partisan lawmakers to restrict these rights to disseminate and codify long-debunked conspiracy theories and lies,” Benson said in a statement last week. “The rules we submitted are based on facts, data, and long-standing nonpartisan standard election administrative practices that support Michigan voters.”

House Bill 4876, sponsored by Alexander, would require election officials to publicly disclose their political party affiliations, which they currently disclose in their applications for office submitted to local clerks. The bill would require candidates to certify their party affiliation and make this information available to local political party presidents and the public.

Opponents argue the bill could burden local employees, who would have to analyze certifications, distribute candidate information to local party presidents and respond to related inquiries, according to the bill’s financial analysis. But supporters of the measure argue that it is important to have poll workers from both parties and that the work could “easily be absorbed into the work the clerks are already doing”.

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