by David Beasley
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has a history of vetoing Republican-led legislation which strives to strengthen the security of the state’s elections. Her most recent veto concerns information being added to voter ballots, which she claims to be restrictive.
Gina Swoboda, executive director of the Voter Reference Foundation, criticized the veto.
“By vetoing the bill to add language to Michigan Voter Registration forms informing the registrant that it is a felony to cast multiple ballots in an election, Gov. Whitmer is in effect suborning voter fraud and further, is exposing the very registrants she claims to be seeking to protect to felony fraud charges,” Swoboda said in a statement. “The fact that Whitmer signed an executive order instructing state agencies to use taxpayer dollars to promote voter registration days after vetoing a bill to require voter registration forms to state voting multiple times in an election is a felony perfectly encapsulates her position that we need more voters, and we need to be sure these voters do not understand the law and are not informed that certain actions constitute felony fraud. The people of Michigan deserve better.”
Whitmer vetoed the GOP-sponsored bill on April 29. According to The Detroit News, the legislation proposed to add information to absentee ballot applications that would notify potential voters it is a felony to vote more than once in the same election.
“Every citizen of Michigan has a constitutionally guaranteed right to vote and should be free to exercise this right without obstruction,” Whitmer wrote in her veto letter, the story said. She also claimed the bill “[aimed] to restrict or chill access to the ballot.”
In early April, Whitmer vetoed Republican-approved legislation that would have required Michigan voters who haven’t voted since 2000 or are listed with a placeholder birth date to send information verifying their identity to their local election clerks to ensure their registration wasn’t canceled, MLive reported. She argued these bills would not “advance the goal of improving Michigan elections.”
In October 2021, Whitmer vetoed three bills intended to toughen Michigan’s voter identification requirements and increase election security, the News reported. The bills required in-person voters to provide proof of ID for their ballots to count. This would replace the current practice in which individuals are allowed to vote without an ID as long as they fill out an affidavit attesting to their identity. The governor argued that “the bills would disproportionately harm communities of color since non-White voters were five times more likely to lack an ID on election day,” the story said.
According to the most recent polling from the Honest Elections Project Action (HEP), 84% of Americans want national voter identification laws. In the poll analysis, HEP Executive Director Jason Snead points out that 72% of Black voters and 90% of Hispanic voters are in favor of voter ID. Snead declares “every state should adopt a photo ID law.” When compared to a year ago, the HEP Action poll showed that support for photo ID laws is 7 points higher. Public demand is high, as 75% of voters said they would vote for a ballot initiative that required every voter to provide a photo ID for in-person voting or give a valid ID number on a mail-in ballot.
On May 1, Whitmer signed an executive directive “instructing state departments and agencies to identify opportunities to help Michiganders register to vote at their facilities. Right now, we are up against a coordinated national attack on voting rights designed to undermine confidence in our elections and systematically disenfranchise communities of color, seniors, and young people,” Whitmer said in a statement.
According to a 2022 poll distributed by Americans for Citizen Voting, 75% of Michigan voters support showing an ID in order to vote. Among Black voters, nearly 80% gave their support.
– – –
David Beasley is a reporter for The Great Lakes Wire.
Background Photo “People Voting” by Phil Roeder. CC BY 2.0.