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Whitmer vetoes voting restrictions adopted by GOP Legislature

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Flickr user justgrimes

Governor Gretchen Whitmer vetoed three bills Friday to add more demands on people wanting to vote, including a photo ID requirement.

What Republicans say is election security, Democrats — including Whitmer — say is voter suppression.

In her veto letter, Governor Whitmer said the burden of showing a photo ID to vote would fall most heavily on communities of color. She said non-white voters are five times more likely than white voters to not have access to an ID card on Election Day.

“Every citizen of Michigan has the constitutionally guaranteed right to vote and deserves to exercise that right in safe and secure elections,” she wrote.

She said the current system, which allows voters without an ID to sign an affidavit of identity, works.

“To be clear,” she wrote, “there is no evidence that use of affidavit ballots is related to voter fraud.”

Republicans quickly blasted the vetoes, which were widely expected.

“Sadly, our governor has shown her unwillingness to rise above partisan politics, listen to the will of the people, and lead,” said Senator Tom Barrett (R-Charlotte), who sponsored one of the bills. “I am disappointed, but not surprised.”

Whitmer also vetoed a bill to help people get a free or reduced cost ID because it would only take effect if the other bills became law. Also bills that would forbid local officials from accepting donations to help cover election costs, and forbid the Secretary of State from mailing out absentee ballot applications unless they are requested by voters.

But the governor’s vetoes may not be the final word. A petition drive is underway to enact many of these proposals into law. If successful, the initiative would not be subject to a veto by the governor.

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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