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Whitmer vetoes two election bills

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer
Michigan Office of the Governor via AP
In her veto letter, the governor said she is ready to sign bills that would make it easier for people to vote via absentee ballots and give clerks more time to process those ballots – if the Legislature would send those to her desk.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer vetoed two election-related bills Friday that were sent to her by the Republican-controlled Legislature. It’s part of a continuing battle over voting rules with the approach of the 2022 elections.

The governor said the bills would divert resources from already stretched local clerks and the Secretary of State to ensure fair elections and Republicans said the vetoes were party politics at work.

One of the bills would give the Secretary of State 100 days to wrap up a check of petition signatures filed by a campaign to initiate a law. Another would have moved the responsibility for cleaning up voter rolls from local clerks to county clerks.

“Every citizen has the constitutionally-guaranteed right to vote and deserves to exercise that right in safe and secure elections,” she wrote in the veto letter, going on to say the bills “… 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.”

Republicans complain state elections officials have slow walked certifying petition signatures collected by initiative campaigns generally opposed by Democrats.

“One hundred days is a reasonable time frame. This veto is not about good public policy. It is about partisan politics,” blasted state Senator Ruth Johnson (R-Holly) and a former Michigan Secretary of State.

“This bill was necessary because Secretary of State (Jocelyn) Benson’s office has taken six to nine months to process the last two citizen initiatives — in one case taking longer to review the signatures than it took for the citizens to gather them. It disenfranchises people who are trying to exercise their rights under the Constitution to propose changes in our laws.”

In her veto letter, Whitmer asked the Legislature to, instead, send her bills to expand access to absentee voting and to giving clerks more time to process absentee ballots.

Whitmer is also expected to veto a bill recently sent to her desk that would require voters to show a government-issued picture ID.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987. His journalism background includes stints with UPI, The Elizabeth (NJ) Daily Journal, The (Pontiac, MI) Oakland Press, and WJR. He is also a lifelong public radio listener.