LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — Hearings began Tuesday in the Michigan Legislature on some of the 39 bills introduced by Republicans that would change election laws in the state.
When GOP legislators rolled out their bills, there were immediate claims that they were intentionally designed to suppress votes for Democrats. Republicans insist they want to make voting more secure, but Democrats say there is no evidence to show voting in the state isn’t currently secure and that the bills are a continuation of unsubstantiated claims of election fraud that arise during the November 2020 election.
The bills are wide-ranging, including everything from requiring photo ID for absentee ballots to changing the requirements around ballot drop boxes to requiring the Secretary of State’s Office to flag deceased voters and inform county clerks of the same. They would prohibit the SoS from sending out absentee ballot applications or posting the application online. They would also require more training for election workers and expand boards of canvassers in bigger counties.
When asked about the bills — which have not yet passed the Legislature or come to her desk — during an interview with The Washington Post Tuesday, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer promised a veto.
“There are 39 bills that are quote-unquote solutions but they’re in search of a problem,” she continued. “We had a fair, full, historic election in the state of Michigan and in our country. This is simply an effort to create barriers to voting people. And I think that it is important to also recognize that a gubernatorial veto isn’t necessarily the end of this story.”
She’s right. The endgame, according to GOP sources, may be a ballot initiative petition. In other words, proponents would take the premise of the bills, gather signatures and get the measure qualified for the ballot. Then the Republican-led Legislature could act on the initiative before it actually goes before voters and it make it law without the governor’s signature.
That is a long, expensive process and getting language approved on such a wide range of changes could be difficult.
For now, expect hearings in the Legislature to go on for weeks as the bills are discussed and debated along party lines.