(The Center Square) – The GOP-led Michigan House of Representatives approved three bills Thursday that aim to change election law.
The legislators claim the bills will “secure elections” despite Democrats decrying the bills as “voter suppression.”
The House approved Senate Bill 303 on a 56-51 vote.
The bill seeks to require stricter voter ID measures. Voters seeking an absentee ballot would have to submit a copy of their driver’s license or state ID, provide the last four digits of their Social Security number, or present ID to the city clerk in which the voter is registered. If the applicant doesn’t provide the above information, the clerk must issue the applicant a provisional absentee voter ballot that wouldn’t count unless the applicant verified their identity to the clerk before 5 p.m. on the sixth day after election day.
The bill seeks to prohibit election officials from sending out absentee ballot applications unless they are specifically requested. Democratic Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson sent out absentee ballot applications before the 2020 presidential election, citing the COVID-19 pandemic as a reason to make socially distanced voting easier.
Another provision seeks to ban the use of private funds flowing into election processes. In the 2020 presidential election, for example, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s charity spent about $400 million to fund election resources nationwide. Nearly $8 million of that funding was spent in Michigan. The provision says the prohibition of private funds applies to election activities, including voter registration, voter eligibility review, and such election equipment as tabulators, voting facilities, and absentee voter drop boxes.
SB 304 would require the election inspector to inform some individuals they are eligible for a free state ID.
HB 5007 aims to make it easier for Michiganders to get a state ID. Beginning Jan. 1, 2022, the bill seeks to delete a state requirement that an applicant pay $10 to the Secretary of State for each original or renewal official State personal ID card issued; and prohibit the SOS from charging a fee for an original or a renewal of an ID card. It would also require the SOS to waive the $10 fee for a duplicate ID card if the individual were on disability assistance or the individual had a homeless verification letter and a photo identification card generated from the federal government.
Rep. Darrin Camilleri, D-Brownstown Twp., said Republicans pushed the bills to continue “The Big Lie” that claims President Joe Biden stole the 2020 presidential election. Camilleri said the bills aim to “steal the Constitutional right to vote.”
Rep. Steve Johnson, R-Wayland, said ID is required to buy alcohol, cigarettes, and even visit lawmakers, although those aren’t Constitutional rights.
“Are we suppressing them?” he asked. Johnson said the current affidavit option has a “loophole” for those wanting to commit election fraud. This week, Attorney General Dana Nessel announced she charged three people with election fraud, two of whom were caught before their vote was counted.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has vowed to veto the GOP’s election bills.