By Jack Phillips
Michigan’s GOP-led Senate on Wednesday passed several bills that, if signed into law, would implement more voter identification requirements for in-person voters and absentee voters, adding Michigan to a growing list of states pursuing more stringient election measures.
All Senate Republicans voted in favor of the three bills, while every Senate Democrat opposed them.
Current law stipulates that Michigan residents who don’t have photo identification when they vote in person, can still cast their ballot if they sign an affidavit at their designated polling location. More than 11,000 individuals cast ballots in this way during the Nov. 3 election, according to election officials
With one bill, which passed in the Senate 19–16, that process would be barred, and voters who don’t have identification would have to cast a provisional ballot and confirm their identity up to six days after casting their vote.
The Senate also voted 19–16 to pass a bill that would mandate applicants who seek absentee ballots to provide their driver’s license number, their official state identification number if they don’t have a license, or the last four digits of their Social Security number. According to the legislation’s text, applicants could attach or present a copy of their identification to their applications.
Another bill that was approved by the Senate Wednesday, again in a 19–16 vote, stipulates that voters who get a provisional ballot have to be notified of the six-day requirement to verify their identity.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, is sure to veto the three bills. Previously, she’s expressed opposition to GOP-backed bills targeting the state’s voting laws and has pledged to veto them.
However, Republicans can sidestep Whitmer’s executive authority and can sign a petition to create a ballot initiative for the three voting bills. They would need more than 340,000 voters to sign the petition.
The Epoch Times has contacted the governor’s office for comment.
Democrats, as they have in other states, characterized the GOP-backed bills attempts to suppress voter turnout rates.
“The most fundamental right we have is to vote,” Sen. Adam Hollier, a Democrat, said on the Senate floor. “It should be easy.”
Republicans, however, said the measure wasn’t a partisan power grab but said both parties would benefit from enhanced regulations.
“We hear a lot about how ‘There’s only this little bit of fraud’ and, therefore, nothing else is needed,” Sen. Ed McBroom, a Republican, said. “But just because you can’t say we caught this amount fraud isn’t somehow compelling proof that there wasn’t more that wasn’t caught.”
Another Republican lawmaker pointed to polls that show Americans most likely support laws that require that voters verify their identity.
“It is overwhelmingly popular among voters that they verify their identity to vote,” Republican Sen. Dana Theis said.
With the bills’ approval by the Senate, Michigan joins a growing list of states that have opted to pass legislation targeting election laws and rules that Republicans have said are too lax and can easily be exploited. Last week, Republicans in Pennsylvania proposed a measure that would overhaul the commonwealth’s election system.
The bill includes more stringent voter identification requirements and mail-ballot signature verification. Among other regulations, the legislation proposed eliminating the state’s permanent mail-in voting list, would establish a new Bureau of Election Audit agency, and would allow early in-person voting starting in 2025.
This year, legislatures in Florida, Georgia, and Texas approved similar bills amid criticism from Democrats, including members of the Biden administration.