by Scott McClallen
Surprising no one, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer vetoed several GOP election reform bills on Friday.
“Access to the ballot box is a right, and I will continue to fight any attempt to limit the right to vote,” Whitmer tweeted.
The first bill sought to require stricter voter ID measures. Voters seeking an absentee ballot would have to submit a copy of their driver’s license or state ID, provide the last four digits of their Social Security number, or present ID to the city clerk in which the voter is registered. If the applicant could not provide the above information, the clerk would have been required to issue a provisional absentee voter ballot that wouldn’t count unless the applicant verified their identity to the clerk before 5 p.m. on the sixth day after election day.
The bill aimed to prohibit election officials from sending out absentee ballot applications unless they are specifically requested. Democratic Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson sent out absentee ballot applications before the 2020 presidential election, citing the COVID-19 pandemic as a reason to make socially distanced voting easier.
Another provision sought to ban the use of private funds flowing into election processes. For example, in the 2020 presidential election, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s charity spent about $400 million to fund election resources nationwide. Nearly $8 million of that funding was spent in Michigan. The vetoed provision says the prohibition of private funds applied to election activities, including voter registration, voter eligibility review, and such election equipment as tabulators, voting facilities, and absentee voter drop boxes.
SB 304 would have required the election inspector to inform some individuals they are eligible for a free state ID.
HB 5007 aimed to make it easier for Michiganders to get a state ID. Beginning Jan. 1, 2022, the bill sought to delete a state requirement that an applicant pay $10 to the Secretary of State for each original or renewal official State personal ID card issued; and prohibit the SOS from charging a fee for an original or a renewal of an ID card. It would have also required the SOS waive the $10 fee for a duplicate ID card if the individual was on disability assistance or had a homeless verification letter and a photo identification card generated from the federal government.
Rep. Ann Bollin, R-Brighton and chair of the House Elections and Ethics Committee, criticized Whitmer for the veto.
“Proving who you are before you vote is a very basic concept that the vast majority of Michigan voters support,” Bollin said in a statement. “Requiring photo ID is a common-sense security measure, and any argument against it goes out the window when you consider we also approved a plan to give away free photo IDs to any citizen who cannot afford one. The governor has once again ignored the will of the people in favor of partisan politics.”
Bollin said stricter voter ID would make elections more secure but not suppress voters.
“Until Proposal 3 passed in 2018, it was a longstanding requirement that all Michigan voters had to show proof of identification before voting for the first time. This requirement did not disenfranchise voters then, and it wouldn’t now. A consistent requirement for all voters to present an ID before receiving a ballot protects the voter and ensures they have a voice with their vote.”
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Scott McClallen is a staff writer covering Michigan and Minnesota for The Center Square. A graduate of Hillsdale College, his work has appeared on Forbes.com and FEE.org. Previously, he worked as a financial analyst at Pepsi.
Photo “Governor Gretchen Whitmer” by Governor Gretchen Whitmer.