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Gov. Whitmer vetoes Michigan voting reforms. Some had bipartisan support

Gretchen Whitmer
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, on Sunday vetoed four bills that would tweak election laws in Michigan. (Bridge file photo)

Oct. 14: Michigan GOP approves election reforms. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s veto is next.
Oct. 12: Michigan clerks: Read fine print of Secure MI Vote. It could ban volunteers.
Oct. 6: Michigan Senate passes bill to tighten election ID, absentee ballot laws
Oct. 5:
 As absentee voting surges, Michigan Republicans seek to bar online applications

LANSING — Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Sunday vetoed four election-related measures introduced by Republicans, some as part of a nationwide effort by the party to reform voting laws.

Whitmer vetoed the laws at an NAACP gathering Sunday in Detroit and claimed in a statement Monday that three out of four bills are “designed to undermine confidence in our election system,” and disenfranchise voters of color.


“I vetoed legislation that would have perpetuated the ‘Big Lie’ or made it harder for Michiganders to vote,” said Whitmer, referring to former President Donald Trump’s debunked claims that voter fraud cost him re-election.


“I will have no part in any effort that grants an ounce of credence to this deception, so harmful to our democracy.” 

Whitmer claimed the legislation tried to solve problems that didn’t exist, but she blocked a bill  to provide “comprehensive training” for poll challengers.”

That was one of the biggest complaints after the November election in Michigan, as hordes of challengers appeared in the Democratic stronghold of Detroit, which election workers said was disruptive.

Many Democrats in the Legislature voted for the reform, but the bill did not include any money for funding training. Whitmer said the proposal is “worth further consideration.”

Another measure vetoed by Whitmer would have expanded the types of locations that can be used as polling places, a bill that also received overwhelmingly bipartisan support. 

Rep. Sarah Lightner, R-Springport Township, sponsored one of the measures. She told Bridge Michigan the vetoes are “a slap in the face” to lawmakers.

“I'm not sure how expanding polling locations, and ensuring poll workers and challengers are well trained limits access to voters,” Lightner said.

“I think that these bills strengthen our elections, protect the vote, and advance democracy.”

Whitmer also blocked:

  • A bill that would prohibit third parties from having access to the Qualified Voter File. Whitmer argued the measure is moot, since currently only the Secretary of State, clerks and other election officials have access to it. 
  • A proposal, HB4838  that would “prohibit the electronic poll book at each election precinct or absent voter counting board from being connected to the Internet after the polls open on election day and until the results have been tabulated for that precinct and transmitted to the appropriate clerk.” 

“This legislation addresses a non-existent problem because poll books currently are not connected to the internet on election day and until the results have been tabulated for that precinct,” Whitmer said. “Together, (the bills) perpetuate the Big Lie by suggesting there is a defect in our election system which, in fact, does not exist.”

The Michigan Bureau of Election conducted 250 post-election audits and  “found no examples of fraud or intentional misconduct by election officials and no evidence that equipment used to tabulate or report election results did not function properly when properly programmed and tested.” The audit reaffirmed Biden’s victory.

A Republican-led Senate report also found no evidence of widespread fraud. 

The proposals are in addition to a Senate elections reform package making its way through the Legislature. The package also includes a push for tightening in-person voting ID requirements. 

But Republicans are aware that the measures won’t make it pass the governor So Republican activists are using a unique provision in the state constitution that allows groups to circumvent a gubernatorial veto, and instead use the legislature to directly enact legislation. 

Last month, the state Board of Canvassers approved language for a petition put out by the MI Secure Vote committee. 

The GOP-affiliated group will have to collect at least 340,047 voter signatures before sending the initiative to the state Legislature.

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