A department of Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s (D) administration claimed a package of election integrity bills are a “vicious attack” and “designed to intimidate black voters.”
The Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity (LEO) published the message by the Michigan Black Leadership Advisory Council (BLAC) on Tuesday as the legislature is considering 39 bills intended to increase election security and avoid issues that occurred during the 2020 election, but the advisory group did not see it that way.
A key bill would require a voter to show an ID prior to casting a ballot.
“This vicious attack was the result of robust Black voter turnout in the 2020 presidential election in Michigan and other states, votes that were a repudiation of voter suppression,” the panel declared on the state website.
The BLAC website said it is charged with “collaborating with the governor’s office” to “promote legislation and regulation that ensures equitable treatment of all Michiganders.”
Legislative Republicans have introduced a series of 39 bills in an attempt to address issues that arose during the counting process and actions by Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson that were later ruled illegal by a state judge.
Michigan Court of Claims Chief Judge, Christopher Murray, held Benson violated the state’s Administrative Procedures Act when she arbitrarily made rules for how to analyze absentee ballots, a method of voting Democrats emphasized during the coronavirus pandemic.
State Sen. Lana Theis (R-Brighton) recently told The Kyle Olson Show, “voting fraud is something that is old as time. Since we’ve been voting, there have been people who have been trying to manipulate the vote.”
She said the legislation would require an ID to vote in person and she disputed the claim that one makes it harder to vote.
A recent poll found respondents agreed with Theis.
A Strategic National survey in April said 72.1 percent of Michigan respondents supported showing photo identification prior to voting. Just 21.9 percent said they did not.
Fifty-eight percent of black respondents supported the concept. Just 32 percent said showing an ID “discriminated against some voters.”
The state agency argued “the bills claim to solve problems that do not exist,” and cited several examples, including:
- Empower elections officials to remove or prohibit drop boxes.
- Ban prepaid postage on absentee ballot return envelopes.
- Require that a photocopy of identification be included with mailed absentee ballot applications.
- Cut off vote-counting at noon on the day following an election, a move that likely would disenfranchise voters in large cities such as Detroit, where votes take longer to tally.
- Limit the secretary of state’s ability to help voters request an absentee ballot.
- Require video surveillance of drop boxes for absentee ballots.
“It is clear that these 39 bills are designed to intimidate Black voters,” the agency declared.
“It is clear that these egregious tactics here in Michigan and everywhere are designed to limit the number of voters participating in our most democratic process.”
Theis argued the opposite, that the bills “make it easier to vote and harder to cheat.”
LEO and BLAC claimed the intent is “un-American”:
BLAC strongly opposes the bills. The council strongly opposes efforts to suppress votes, especially the votes of Black Michiganders.
We are calling on residents across the state to flood these legislators with phone calls and emails expressing outrage.
The leaders of three dozen major Michigan companies, including General Motors, Ford, Blue Cross Blue Shield, and Quicken Loans, denounced the voter suppression efforts in Michigan and other states, without singling out any specific bills.
The agency urged residents to contact CEOs of other companies to activate them against the bills, which it argued are “nothing short of an attack on our American way of life.”
Theis challenged the companies to attend a hearing and explain their opposition to voter ID.
“All of the different businesses out there screaming and yelling because ID is supposed to suppress the vote,” but she said the opposite is true.
“I’m going to treat everyone like they’re capable, intelligent human beings deserving of respect,” and that they can obtain an ID.
“It is so patently hypocritical for them to be trying to take this stand against election integrity and every American had ought to be truly offended by what it is that they’re doing,” she said.
Theis predicted Ford, GM, and the other companies would not be successful at killing the reforms.
“How dare they weaken my vote,” she said.