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Michigan Gov. Vetoes Bills That Continue Election Falsehoods

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer vetoed four House bills that she said would have perpetuated false claims of election fraud. But many of the measures within the vetoed bills are already in place across the state.

(TNS) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer vetoed an election bill package Sunday that aimed to change certain aspects of Michigan’s elections and put current practices into law.

Whitmer vetoed House Bills 4837, 4838, 4528 and 4492, Sunday evening at the 66th annual NCAAP Freedom Fund Dinner at the TCF Center in Detroit, calling the package a continued disinformation campaign that would have “perpetuated the ‘Big Lie’” to discredit the November 2020 election.

The bills are just one package of Republican-led legislation to tighten the security of Michigan elections, though some of the measures are already in place. The efforts have come under intense criticism from voting rights activists and Democratic lawmakers, who argue the GOP is pushing for election changes in response to baseless claims that the 2020 election was compromised by voter fraud.

“Right now, Michigan Republicans are participating in a coordinated, national attack on voting rights that is designed to undermine confidence in our election system and systematically disenfranchise Black voters, communities of color, older voters, and college students,” Whitmer said in a press release. “I will have no part in any effort that grants an ounce of credence to this deception, so harmful to our democracy.”

NAACP Detroit President Rev. Dr. Wendell Anthony praised Whitmer for her veto Sunday.

“The governor demonstrated once again that she is the people’s governor,” Anthony said. “She is the governor wherever she is from her desk in Lansing to a dinner at the NAACP. She is still Big Gretch and has the pen to prove it!”

Though each of the bills received some support from House Democrats back in August, their Senate colleagues took a harsher tone against the bills. Sen. Paul Wojno, D- Warren, was the only Democrat to join Republicans Thursday in support of the proposals.

Rep. David LaGrand, D- Grand Rapids, who was one of several Democrats to vote for the bills in August, said he doesn’t want to talk past or minimize the concerns of his Republican colleagues. LaGrand said people should be careful when talking about voter fraud, “but it is also true that we are in a real place where 40% of the country has deep concerns about election integrity.”

The House Democrats who voted for the bills said they were comfortable voting for the measures since most are already in practice.

House Bill 4837 and 4838 would bar third-party organizations from accessing the Qualified Voter File (QVF), which they do not have access to currently.

House Bill 4838 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. The law wouldn’t change current procedures, which have never included connecting poll books to the internet.

“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,” a statement from the governor’s office said.

“Together, HB 4837 and 4838 perpetuate the Big Lie by suggesting there is a defect in our election system which, in fact, does not exist,” the statement said.

HB 4492 would change the way municipalities choose a venue for polling locations. The bill would allow senior housing facilities, privately owned clubhouses or conference centers and apartment buildings or complexes to be used as polling places, as long as the facility is not owned by a sponsor of a political committee.

The governor said she vetoed the bill because it would make it more difficult to locate polling locations in senior living facilities and large apartment complexes.

Additionally, Whitmer explained her veto of House Bill 4528 on the lack of funding needed to accomplish the bill’s purpose. The bill would establish a comprehensive training for county clerks, and political parties seeking to designate election challengers.

The Michigan Republican Party blasted Whitmer for her veto of the legislation.

“It’s clear Gretchen Whitmer isn’t interested in protecting democracy,” said Gustovo Portela, a spokesperson for MIGOP. “She’s more interested in grand standing and pandering rather than strengthening the security of our elections.”

Sen. Majority Leader Mike Shirkey issued a statement expressing his disappointment over the governor’s decision while pointing out bipartisan support the legislation had received.

“The bitter, unfortunate irony is that while the Governor spent months falsely accusing Republicans of playing politics with our elections, it is the Governor who played politics in the end. It should not be overlooked that these were sound, bipartisan bills that would have improved our elections, pure and simple. The sad reality is that when the governor has to lead, rather than hide behind executive orders and mandates, there is no substance.”

Whitmer has made it clear she would veto any Republican-backed voting bills introduced in the Michigan Senate that would make it more difficult to vote.

But a petition initiative that mirrors GOP legislation to tighten voter ID laws was granted approval by the Michigan Board of Canvassers last week to start collecting signatures. The group will need just over 340,000 signatures for the Republican-controlled state Legislature to adopt the changes in a veto proof majority vote.

©2021 Advance Local Media LLC. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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