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Whitmer Vetoes Election Bills For Perpetuating ‘Big Lie,’ Suppressing Voters

October 12, 2021

Four election-related bills were scratched off by the Governor’s veto pen, with her reasoning being that they were “attempts to suppress the vote or perpetuate the ‘Big Lie.'” 

“I will have no part in any effort that grants an ounce of credence to this deception, so injurious to our democracy,” said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in her formal veto letter.

Whitmer announced she would be vetoing the voting reform bills Monday in the TCF Center, where the NAACP Detroit Branch was hosting the 66th NAACP Fight for Freedom Dinner with about 1,000 attendees and several speakers.

The branch’s president, Rev. Dr. Wendell Anthonydescribed the Republican-led effort to tighten Michigan’s election systems as “shameful” and “no more than political rascality” at the event.

“This is civil rights. This is human rights. This is voting rights. This is your rights. This is our rights,” Anthony said to the audience. “We are under attack. Freedom is under attack. Democracy is under attack. Our right to vote is being challenged.”

On Sunday’s stage, the Governor guaranteed other bills from the GOP-produced election package would face the fate of her rejection if delivered to her desk.

“I am laser focused on kitchen-table issues that get things done for Michiganders, like fixing the roads, ensuring clean water, and providing good-paying jobs,” Whitmer said in her letter. “We can and should work together on election policy, as well — but only in ways that strengthen our democracy. I am ready to join hands with anyone who shares these goals.”

The bills vetoed included:

– HB 4492, sponsored by Rep. Ann Bollin(R-Brighton Twp.), permitting privately owned clubhouses and conference centers to be used as polling locations. In order to be approved, the site must not be within 100 yards of an entrance to a building owned by a political or independent committee sponsor.

Another guideline in the bill was that the building’s owner or manager must sign an affidavit affirming they do not sponsor a political or independent committee for it to be used for voting.

– HB 4838, sponsored by Rep. Phil Green(R-Millington), prohibiting electronic voting systems and poll books from being connected to the internet on an election day.

– HB 4837, sponsored by Rep. Sarah Lightner(R-Springport), reduces access to the state’s qualified voter file (QVF) to the Secretary of State (SOS) and clerks on each county, city and township level.

“HB 4837 implies that outside parties had access to the state’s qualified voter file. They did not. HB 4838 implies that electronic poll books were connected to the internet and vulnerable to tampering. They never were. And HB 4492 would make it more difficult for seniors and persons living in large apartment complexes to vote,” Whitmer’s letter reads.

Whitmer additionally vetoed HB 4528 from Rep. Bryan Posthumus(R-Cannon Twp.), which would require election challengers to complete a training program and obtain a certificate around curriculum designed by the SOS and county clerks.

The Governor allowed the item to be one “worth further consideration,” but “it must have the necessary funding to accomplish its purpose.”

Progress Michigan, the Michigan Democratic Party and the Michigan League of Conservation Voters backed the Governor on her vetoes. But she earned scorn from Republicans, including the Michigan Republican Party and Rep. Matt Hall (R-Marshall), who said the “people have been clear. They want robust and secure elections processes going forward that give them faith in the results.”

Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey(R-Clarklake) reacted by saying that “the bitter, unfortunate irony is that while the Governor spent months falsely accusing Republicans of playing politics with our elections, it is the Governor who played politics in the end. The sad reality is that when the Governor has to lead, rather than hide behind executive orders and mandates, there is no substance.”

On Twitter, Shirkey’s spokesperson, Abby Mitch, brought up some of the public sponsors to the legislation that Whitmer deemed as ammunition for the “Big Lie” and 2020 General Election deniers. MIRS checked the Senate Election Committee’s Sept. 29 minutes and found that support cards were read from:

– The Michigan Townships Association supported HB 4492. Additionally, an August letter from the Oakland County Clerks Association also expressed support for the legislation that would create more eligible polling locations.

– HB 4837, which limited access to the QVF, and HB 4838 which bans internet connection for voting equipment on Election Day, both received support from the associations of county and municipal clerks.

When it came to HB 4837 and HB 4838, SOS spokesperson Adam Reames described the department as being neutral on the bills.

“The department is neutral and appreciate (Rep. Lightner’s) comments about clearing up any confusion about whether somebody had access to the QVF and just want to reiterate — no third parties have access to the QVF,” Reames said at the meeting. “This is the current policy, and for that reason we are not opposed.”

He described HB 4838 as also being current guidance, “and we don’t think there’s been a problem there . . . but we understand the intent here.”

However, on the Senate floor, Sen. Jeremy Moss(D-Southfield) illustrated HB 4838 as not being as innocuous as other election bills, warning that it perpetuates false notions and conspiracy theories “that there are large gaps in our election law that are filled with criminal activity.”

“We should be thankful that our election administrators are following the law as it is written and there’s no need to fill in any gaps here with conspiracy theories that would otherwise dictate that our elections were insecure,” Moss said.

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