Photo by Brian Rozman Photo by Brian Rozman

Michigan Republicans have introduced 39 bills aimed at addressing voter fraud investigations show never existed.

LANSING, Mich.—In 2020, Michigan broke voter turnout records three times. Republicans in the Legislature want to make sure that doesn’t happen again.

Republicans filed 39 bills in March aimed at radically altering voting in Michigan. One of the proposed changes would require absentee voters to present ID when requesting an absentee ballot, though in-person voters are not presently subject to voter ID laws. A related provision requires in-person voters without ID to vote by provisional ballot, which is counted separately and easier to challenge. 

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Other components of the bills introduced by Michigan Republican legislators include:

  • Another locks absentee ballot drop boxes 27 hours before polls close. 
  • Another would require hourly checks to make sure the number of ballots issued matches the number received, which seems to ignore spoiled ballots, where a voter has one ballot discarded without being counted to correct errors or, more commonly, vote in person after getting an absentee ballot issued.
  • Yet another requires a vote tally to be delivered by noon the day after the election. In 2020, a complete count of votes in Michigan took the better part of a week. 
  • And another bill would ban the Secretary of State from mailing absentee ballot applications or posting those applications online, as was done in 2020.

Michigan Democrats worry these bills are motivated in large part by the often-debunked claims of rampant voter fraud commonly made by Republicans, in particular by former President Donald Trump. State officials conducted an exhaustive review of the 2020 election and found no evidence of the rampant fraud claimed by Republicans. 

Graphic by Morgaine Ford-Workman
Graphic by Morgaine Ford-Workman

“No matter how many bogus conspiracy theories right-wingers come up with, all the evidence points to the fact that Michigan elections are free, fair, and accurate,” Lonnie Scott, executive director of Progress Michigan, said in a statement to The ‘Gander. “Our elected officials should be working to build on that momentum and further expand access to the ballot box but instead, they’re continuing their efforts to undermine public trust in our elections and using false claims of fraud as an excuse for blatant voter suppression.”

Scott argued that while state Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey (R-Clark Lake) has a lot of sway in Lansing, his leadership on the charge to disenfranchise voters goes against the will of the people, expressed in the 2018 votes that dramatically expanded Michigan’s voting rights. 

“Michiganders have come together time and time again to support our democracy, and we won’t stop fighting to ensure every eligible voter can make their voice heard,” said Scott. Michiganders passed a slate of election reforms in 2018 that made it easier to vote. Those changes included allowing same-day voter registration and no-reason absentee voting. Michigan also took steps like mailing absentee ballot applications to eligible voters during the pandemic to make voting safer. Together, they went on to lay the groundwork for a national voting rights package called the For the People Act. 

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If the 39 voter suppression bills that stand to roll back Michigan’s voter’s rights progress make it to the desk of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, it’s likely she will veto the majority of the package. 

“These efforts are dangerous, racist and undertaken for personal and political gain,” said Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson after completing the review of Michigan’s 2020 election. “They are also completely meritless as proven by these audits and must be treated as such in the future.”

Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey champions the bills as an effort to secure elections and make voting easier, but Scott said something more insidious is at play.

“Mike Shirkey and his merry band of voter suppression supporting idiots may have a majority of the Michigan Legislature, but their efforts don’t have the support of the majority of Michiganders.”