“How do we provide safe and secure elections in our state if the governor can’t even agree that we should be ensuring dead people aren’t on our voting rolls?” a sponsor of one the bills, Republican state Sen. Michael MacDonald, said in a statement following Whitmer’s vetoes on Friday.
One of the vetoed bills would have revised the administrative process for removing dead people from voter lists and required more frequent checks during the 45-day period before an election.
The bill passed through the state Senate and House with bipartisan support, and some clerks said the change would be welcomed.
Ingham County Clerk Barb Byrum told the Detroit Free Press she had testified in favor of the change and said Friday she still supports the concept but had not discussed the veto with Whitmer.
FILE – In this July 12, 2021, file photo Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer speaks at a vaccine mobilization event in Detroit. Gov. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)
“I trust the governor to realize and know that the GOP has made election administration a political issue,” Byrum, a former Democratic state lawmaker, said.
Whitmer argued the measure added “burdensome requirements that would distract from core election administration responsibilities.”
“Every citizen of Michigan has the constitutionally-guaranteed right to vote and deserves to exercise that right in safe and secure elections,” Whitmer wrote in a letter explaining her vetoes on Friday. “Enrolled Senate Bills 277 and 280 are the latest in a series of election bills arriving on my desk that fail to advance those goals.”
“Instead, these bills would divert key resources away from ensuring that every qualified Michigan resident can cast a secure ballot in our elections.”
The other vetoed bill would have required the state elections board to canvass signatures for an initiative petition within 100 days of the filing. It currently must make a determination no more than 100 days before the election in which the proposal would appear on the ballot.
Whitmer gave no specific reason for vetoing SB 280, the Detroit Free Press reported. It passed in the state House and Senate along party lines. The Michigan Department of State, however, opposed the bill because it did not provide additional funding for the initiative.
The bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Ruth Johnson, added that the Democratic governor’s veto was an instance of her playing politics.
“This bill was necessary because Secretary of State Benson’s office has taken six to nine months to process the last two citizen initiatives. … It disenfranchises people who are trying to exercise their rights under the Constitution to propose changes in our laws.”
Whitmer had vowed earlier this year to veto other Republican-backed election bills, saying they are “just simply an effort to create barriers to voting people.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.