Michigan Republicans Seek Election Law Changes After 2020 Losses

On Wednesday, Michigan Senate Republicans unveiled 39 wide-ranging bills to alter state election laws.

The bills target areas like absentee ballots and voter qualifications, which were the focus of former President Donald Trump’s campaign to overturn his 2020 defeat.

Trump lost Michigan by 3 percentage points or 154,000 votes, but the effort among some Republicans to discredit the outcome continues

Senate Republicans contend that their new bills would ensure integrity and “restore trust” in the voting process. But Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich, D-Flint, said the plan was “nothing more than an extension of lies and deceit about the last election.”

“Our elections are fair and safe and that has been the case under Republican administrations and Democratic administrations,” Ananich said. “The fact that Republicans didn’t win as many races as they wanted to does not justify their attempt to silence voters.”

Among the many proposed changes, the bills would bar Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson from sending out absentee ballot applications unless they are specifically requested by voters. Benson, a Democrat, sent out applications to all registered voters in 2020 amid the pandemic, drawing criticism from Trump himself.

The bills would also require applicants for absentee ballots to present or attach a copy of identification, overhaul large counties’ canvassing boards and mandate that absentee ballot drop boxes be monitored by video recordings

Another proposal would bar local governments from providing prepaid postage for absentee ballot return envelopes as some did to encourage participation last year. A bill would require voters without photo identification to vote through a provisional ballot, rather than signing an affidavit to vote, as can be done under current law.

Benson slammed the package in a Wednesday statement by saying many bills “will make it harder for citizens to vote.” Likewise, Lansing Clerk Chris Swope, president of the Michigan Association of Municipal Clerks, said the package contains “some of the most egregious voter suppression ideas Michigan has seen.”

Many proposals appear to respond directly to criticism by Republicans about the Nov. 3 election.

The proposals would require the signatures of Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to become law.


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