Michigan Secretary Of State Blasts GOP-Backed Election Bills
April 16, 2021
By Jessica Mathews & Jon King / firstname.lastname@example.org
Michigan’s top election official is blasting Republican-backed voting bills that are pending in the Legislature, saying some would be more restrictive than a controversial new law in Georgia.
Democratic Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson held a virtual press conference on Thursday centered on dozens of Republican-backed bills she maintains suppress the rights of voters. Proposal 3 was approved in 2018 which made voting easier and more accessible by allowing no-reason absentee voting. Voters exercised those new rights in the 2020 General Election by voting in person, voting absentee by mail or by dropping ballots into boxes.
A 39-bill package recently introduced in the GOP-controlled Senate seeks to, among other things; prohibit mailing out absentee ballot applications unless they are specifically requested by voters, require applicants for absentee ballots to attach a copy of their identification, overhaul canvassing boards, and mandate that absentee ballot drop boxes be monitored by video recordings. Senate Republicans have maintained the legislation would "ensure election integrity and restore trust" in the voting process.
Benson said unfortunately some have used the pandemic and last year’s historic election to sow doubt instead of confidence in the election system – adding the false narrative that has been crafted is now manifesting in measures designed to restrict voting. “Michigan’s GOP legislators have joined a national, coordinated, partisan effort based on false information about the 2020 election to attack all citizens’ freedom to vote,” said Benson. “The truth is that the 2020 election was secure, fair, and an accurate reflection of the will of the people, and legislation that seeks to undo the policies that brought about its record-setting turnout and success is anti-American and does harm to every Michigander.”
Senate Republicans dispute the package restricts voting, pointing to measures that allow for the pre-registration of 16-year-olds when they get their driver's licenses and create another day of voting on a Saturday 10 days before Election Day.
We wonder which of these things Secretary of State @JocelynBenson considers "un-American" in our elections reforms plan?— MI Senate GOP (@MISenate) April 15, 2021
More details on the bills here https://t.co/woynbAmCFu https://t.co/52kF9fDVUa pic.twitter.com/uddQ3B7S9r
If, as expected, Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer vetoes the measures, the Michigan Republican Party is set to launch a petition initiative that would allow the GOP-controlled Legislature to make the proposal law without Whitmer being able to veto it.
Benson claims the GOP’s intent all along is to use the petition process that requires signatures from approximately 340,000 signatures, less than 7% of all Michigan voters, to undo the will of citizens as seen in the overwhelming approval of the 2018 constitutional amendment that expanded absentee voting.
Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey, who joined Benson at Thursday morning's conference, said the measures were specifically targeting the majority Black city, which was a focal point of Republican attempts to undermine the 2020 election. Winfrey said that the measure’s prohibition on pre-paid postage for absentee ballots directly discriminates against low-income citizens and that she and other Democratic leaders will continue to fight the efforts at restricting minorities' access to the ballot.
Michigan's strength comes from the voices of each and every one of us. The GOP's proposed bills put up barriers to silence some communities, weaken our democracy and ensure they hold on to power. We must stand together to protect our #FreedomToVote. https://t.co/JGRCWNIUz9— MI Senate Dems (@MISenDems) April 15, 2021
Nationally, more than 360 bills seeking to restrict voting access have been introduced in 47 states according to the Brennan Center for Justice.