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House Dems roll out election bills; offer contrast to GOP proposals

The Michigan Capitol building in Lansing, featuring a lamppost and the Gov. Blair statue.
Emma Winowiecki
Michigan Radio
The Michigan Capitol building in Lansing.

Michigan House Democrats rolled out an agenda Wednesday to make voting easier, especially for voters who want to vote by absentee ballot.

The House Democratic package stands in contrast to more restrictive Republican plans, such as requiring voters to present an ID.

Representative Karen Whitsett is a Democrat on the House Elections and Ethics Committee. She said the goal should be to make ballots more accessible.

“Because there is no way in the United States of America, we should be making voting harder and not easier,” she said.

The bills were endorsed by Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, who said it’s important to oppose measures that would add restrictions on voting.

“That’s what we all must do if our democracy is to survive this moment,” she said. “I have faith that it can, but only through work like this that we’re celebrating and announcing today can we be sure that it does.”

These proposals are not a surprise. But they do draw the lines on where the parties stand on what the voting rules should be. With a Democratic governor and a Republican Legislature, nothing will happen without a bipartisan agreement.

And the initial reaction from Republicans was: no deal.

“With this new scheme from House Democrats, we are moving further away from what people want and closer to what partisans want. That’s not the right path for the integrity of Michigan’s elections or people on both sides who expect their elections to be fair, efficient and trustworthy,” said Republican Representative Matt Hall, who chairs the House Oversight Committee and presiding over hearings on the how the 2020 elections were handled.

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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