Michigan Senate passes stricter voter ID, absentee ballot legislation

Posted at 9:08 PM, Oct 06, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-06 22:25:50-04

LANSING, Mich. — Michigan’s GOP-controlled Senate again passed bills targeting elections Wednesday that would tighten the state’s voter ID laws and prohibit officials from sending out unsolicited absentee ballot applications.

“There is broad bipartisan support for requiring individuals to use government-issued ID when voting to ensure the integrity of our elections,” said former Michigan Secretary of State and Sen. Ruth Johnson (R–Groveland Township).

“There’s a reason why 80 percent of Americans support showing photo ID to vote, because it’s common sense; it’s not suppression,” Sen. Aric Nesbitt (R–Lawton) said.

The bills, passed on party lines Wednesday, would eliminate an existing affidavit option for voters who don’t present ID at the ballot box, and also require those requesting absentee ballots to provide a copy of their photo ID, their driver’s license number or the last four digits of their Social Security number.

Republicans say it will shore up election security; Democrats say the legislation perpetuates “the big lie” and makes it harder for people to vote.

“There’s really no need for this additional voter ID law on steroids when we already have a voter ID law,” said Sen. Jeff Irwin (D–Ann Arbor). “What's going to be the end result of this is that valid voters, people who are legal voters in Michigan, are going to have their ballots thrown out, or they're going to be forced to leave that long line that has made longer by these voter-suppression tactics.”

The legislation now largely mirrors the “Secure MI Vote” petition, a GOP-backed ballot drive, which is seeking more than 340,000 signatures to adopt similar election reforms and go around a potential veto from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

The governor has already vetoed four election bills that have made her way to the desk, and told FOX 17 Monday she’ll do the same with others that make it to her desk.

“We have a voter ID requirement in Michigan, and it works. And that's the thing: we've had a system that has reflected the will of the voters, and that's what democracy is all about,” Whitmer said. “Efforts to make it more difficult to create hurdles, to cut people out of the democratic conversation that we have every election cycle, I think just works to undermine our democracy and to feed into people's fears. The fact of the matter the courts have ruled over and over again, this was an election that was fair, it was historic, and it reflects who we elected, whether you agree with it, that person or not, the next opportunity weigh-in is the next election.”

The Michigan Senate will vote on additional election bills Thursday, including one that would waive fees for Michigan residents obtaining state ID cards.

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