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GOP voter ID bills spark fierce debate, pass Michigan Senate

Thousands of voters running out of time to return ballots
Posted at 9:46 PM, Jun 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-16 21:46:17-04

LANSING, Mich. — In the wake of President Donald Trump losing his reelection bid and the flurry of unsubstantiated claims of widespread voter fraud, a nationwide push from Republican state lawmakers found some legs in Michigan Wednesday.

The GOP-controlled Michigan Senate passed three bills that add stricter ID requirements for voters.

These bills would ensure the security and fairness of our elections,” said former Secretary of State and current Michigan Sen. Ruth Johnson (R–Holly), who’s pushing the changes.

Among the changes, absentee voters would be required to either show their Michigan license or provide clerks with their license number or last four digits of their Social Security number to get a mail-in ballot.

It would also change things for in-person voters. Right now in Michigan you can vote if you don’t have an ID on you, as long as you sign an affidavit swearing you are who you say you are.

Proposed Voter ID Requirements

These bills instead would give ID-less voters a provisional ballot and six days to prove their identity to the clerk or their vote doesn’t count.

“This historic shift from in-person voting to by mail or drop boxes required us to review the process and to ensure its secure and reliable,” Sen. Lana Theis (R–Brighton) said in support of the bills.

Democratic lawmakers argue hundreds of audits have already shown Michigan elections were secure. Several spoke in opposition of the legislation Wednesday.

“I watch as my Republican colleagues deceive the public about the integrity of our elections, undo the secure voter ID requirements that have worked for decades, and strategically push through legislation that would make it harder, not easier, for Michiganders to vote,” said Sen. Dayna Polehanki (D–Livonia).

Democrats and voter rights groups says the legislation will make it harder to vote and unfairly target people of color.

You want to suppress the vote so you can stay in power,” Sen. Sylvia Santana (D–Detroit) said to Republican colleagues.

The bills passed 19-16 on party lines and now head to the House for review.

A vote in the House could be the end of the line for the proposals; Governor Gretchen Whitmer has said she will veto the legislation if it makes it to her desk.

If the governor does veto the bills, the state GOP says they are considering sidestepping her signature by using a ballot-drive initiative.