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Senate adopts bills to expand ID requirements to vote

sign that says "vote here"
Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

The Republican-controlled Michigan Senate adopted bills Wednesday to expand ID requirements to vote in person or to get an absentee ballot.

The bills were adopted on party-line votes over the objection of Democrats and the promise of a veto from Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

Republican Senator Ruth Johnson is a former Secretary of State. She says showing a photo ID is a reasonable expectation.

“ID is an essential part of everyday life for most Americans,” she said. “We must show ID for many things in our lives, including getting on an airplane, opening a bank account, buying alcohol, or even applying for a fishing license online.”

But Democrats argued the ID requirement would pose a hardship and would discourage some people from exercising the right to vote, especially after Michigan voters approved an amendment in 2018 to make absentee voting easier.

Senator Sylvia Santana is a Detroit Democrat. She says Republicans know the landscape is changing after losing the 2020 presidential race.

“So now you want to change the rules and add barriers so that people who look like me get frustrated and decide not to vote,” she said.

Senator Adam Hollier is also a Democrat from Detroit. He called the proposed ID requirement a needless barrier to exercise the right to vote. He said the Legislature’s time would be better spent finding ways to make voting faster and easier.  

“That’s not what this is designed to do, is to make it easier. But it could be,” he said. “This is an opportunity for us to fix problems, and we are creating even more, and that’s the travesty of these discussions is that there are a lot of people whose ballots won’t be counted.”

The bills now go to the House, which is also controlled by Republicans.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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