Michigan Governor Whitmer Vetoes Two Modest Election Reform Bills

FILE - In this Feb. 12, 2019 file photo, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer delivers her State of the State address to a joint session of the House and Senate at the state Capitol in Lansing, Mich. Whitmer's proposal to significantly increase fuel taxes to fix the roads is paired with …
Al Goldis/AP Photo

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D-MI) vetoed two relatively modest election reform bills on Friday.

One vetoed bill, “Senate Bill (SB) 280 aimed to require the Board of State Canvassers to complete the canvass of an initiative petition within 100 days after the petition was filed with the Secretary of State (SOS).”

The second vetoed bill, “SB 277 aimed to require county clerks to update the qualified voter file (QVF) to cancel the registration of deceased electors in their counties at least monthly.”

The Detroit Free Press reported on Republican criticism of Whitmer’s veto of SB 277:

Lead bill sponsor Sen. Michael MacDonald, R-Macomb Township, said the veto was especially frustrating given its support by local election officials.

“How do we provide safe and secure elections in our state if the governor can’t even agree that we should be ensuring dead people aren’t on our voting rolls?” MacDonald said in a statement.

The likelihood that either veto will be overriden is virtually nil, since it requires the vote of two-thirds of the members of each house of the Michigan State Legislature to override the governor’s veto.

Republicans control both houses of the Michigan State Legislature, but narrowly. Republicans control the House by a 57 to 52 margin, with one vacancy. Republicans also control the State Senate by a 20 to 16 margin, with two vacancies.

On October 3, Whitmer vetoed four other election reform bills passed by the Michigan State Legislature, as The Detroit News reported:

At least one of the vetoed bills was introduced in prior sessions, before the 2020 election, said Rep. Ann Bollin, the Brighton Township Republican who chairs the House Elections and Ethics Committee. All of the bills were meant to expand and strengthen access to the voting booth, Bollin said. . .

Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey criticized the governor’s veto, accusing her of playing politics after she spent months alleging Republicans were playing politics with the elections.

“It should not be overlooked that these were sound, bipartisan bills that would have improved our elections, pure and simple,” said Shirkey, R-Clarklake. “The sad reality is that when the governor has to lead, rather than hide behind executive orders and mandates, there is no substance.”

Earlier in the week, three Michigan residents were charged by Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel with “crimes related to attempted voter fraud in the 2020 general election.”

Two charges related to attempted absentee ballot vote harvesting at nursing homes, and one involved a single instance of falsifying a signature on an absentee ballot.

In one case, an employee of a nursing home, dropped off “roughly two dozen absentee voter applications” for processing with the Centerline Clerk in Macomb County, who “said the application signatures didn’t match voter signatures in the Qualified Voter File (QVF).” That employee “is charged with six felonies in Macomb County’s 37th District Court.”

In a second instance of attempted vote harvesting, a 55-year old woman:

…planned to control absentee ballots for legally incapacitated persons under her care by fraudulently submitting 26 absentee ballot applications to nine identified city and township clerks. Williams sought to have absentee ballots for those individuals mailed directly to her. She also submitted separate voter registration applications for each person – all without knowledge, consent, or understanding of the person under her care. . .[She]  is charged with 14 misdemeanors and 28 felonies across five courts.

The third person charged with a crime was a 59-year old grandmother from Detroit, Carless Clark, who allegedly forged her grandson’s signature on an absentee ballot, which she mailed in and then was counted. Her grandson also voted in person on election day, so this was a case of double voting.

The Michigan State Legislature is still in session and Republicans continue to work on their agenda of passing more than three dozen election reform bills, six of which have now been passed by the state legislature and vetoed by Gov. Whitmer.

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