Michigan Republicans OK tougher voting rules; governor plans to veto

Published: Oct. 14, 2021 at 3:31 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The Republican-led Michigan Legislature has approved tougher voter ID requirements and a ban against mass mailing of unsolicited absentee ballot applications.

Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer will veto them.

Thursday’s party-line votes in the House came shortly after several people in the gallery were escorted out for yelling in protest against the action.

Senate Bill 303 would require voters who request an absentee ballot to write their driver’s license number, state ID number or the last four digits of their Social Security number. They currently sign the document, and the signature is checked against what is on file.

The bill also includes a ban on private money for election operations, including privately-funded voter registration drives. Election officials also would be prohibited from mailing unsolicited absentee ballot applications.

Lawmakers also approved two other election bills on Thursday:

  • Senate Bill 304 would set up a process for voters who don’t have proper identification to cast a provision ballot, which wouldn’t be counted until they show required ID to their local clerk.
  • House Bill 5007 would provide free state ID cards to Michigan residents who could use them at the polls.

Secure MI Vote is circulating petitions for a citizen initiative to enact many of the voter ID changes included in Senate Bills 303 and 304. If the group obtains about 340,000 signatures, the Republican-led Legislature could approve the reforms with no threat of a veto.

Whitmer vetoed the most recent Republican election reform bills over the weekend.

Bills to address where polling locations can be placed, limit who can access the state voter file, prevent voting equipment from being connected to the internet and require election challengers to receive training all were rejected during an NAACP event Sunday.

Republicans said the bills would codify existing practices.

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