Whitmer Vetoes Michigan GOP Election Bills

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer
by Scott McClallen


Gov. Gretchen Whitmer vetoed two bills that aimed to keep voter roll lists updated – a security risk flagged by the state auditor in 2019.

House Bill 4127 and House Bill 4128 aimed to require the Secretary of State to send notices to registered electors with an unknown date of birth in the Qualified Voter File and to those who haven’t voted since the 2000 general election, within 90 days of the bill’s effective date.

That registered elector would have to sign the notice, add a date of birth, and mail back a copy of an original birth certificate, current driver’s license, or state personal ID card.

The clerk would then have to verify the elector’s signature with the signature on record with the QVF.

If the notices were unreturned or returned as undeliverable, the elector’s registration would be marked as challenged. If the elector did not vote or verify the birthdate within two general November elections, the SOS would have to cancel the elector’s registration and notify the applicable city or township clerk.

The bills passed the House 66-43 and the Senate 22-16. Republicans have majorities in each; Whitmer is a Democrat.

Whitmer’s office hasn’t responded to a request for comment. She told Mlive that the bills wouldn’t “advance the goal of improving Michigan elections.”

In December 2019, an Office of the Auditor General audit recommended the Bureau of Elections improve QVF control procedures to reduce the risk of voter fraud. The OAG found 230 registered electors aged 122 years or older, an identifier used as a placeholder for people with missing birth dates.

The House Fiscal Agency estimated the bills would cost about $100,000 at the Department of State for mailing return cards with prepaid and preaddressed postage, assuming mailing costs of 32 cents each.

The state estimates 304,792 registered electors in the QVF who haven’t voted since 2000 and 547 registered electors with unknown or placeholder birthdates.

Bill sponsor Rep. Matt Hall, R-Marshall, said Whitmer’s veto will hurt efforts to restore confidence in future Michigan elections.

“This legislation was introduced as a direct result of an issue identified by the auditor general,” Hall said in a statement. “Rather than work with the Legislature to address an obvious concern, the governor has inexplicably decided to leave the door open to potential problems with the state’s official voter list. Her position just doesn’t make sense.”

Hall led a House Oversight Committee hearing during the 2019-20 legislative term that explored QVF deficiencies.

“These changes were needed to ensure our voter rolls are accurate and to restore confidence in Michigan elections moving forward,” Hall said. “People who have died or moved away from Michigan decades ago should not be on official voter rolls. This plan provided a chance to clean up voter lists and improve our elections process, and the governor is throwing it away.”

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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 “Whitmer’s signature” by gewhitmer.


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