GOPocrisy, Michigan Republicans — December 4, 2016 at 11:30 am

Michigan Republicans add appropriation to voter suppression bill making it democracy-proof (immune from citizen referendum)

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This past week I wrote about a package of voter suppression bills currently being blasted through the state legislature (HERE and HERE.) They are House Bills 6066, 6067, and 6068.

Here’s a piece of what I wrote on Friday:

First, we have the voter suppression effort that I wrote about on Wednesday. This legislation does away with the option to sign an affidavit in lieu of showing a photo ID when voting. If this package of legislation – House Bills 6066, 6067, and 6068 – becomes law, anyone without a photo ID will be required to go to their local clerk’s office within 10 days of the election to prove they are who they say they are. As the Detroit Free Press points out, this would effect thousands and thousands of voters […]

Given the virtual non-existence of voter fraud, this is a solution in search of a problem. In fact, it’s a bald-faced voter suppression effort and nothing more. It’s also a way to help Republican Lisa Lyons’ when she runs for Michigan Secretary of State in a few years. She’s term-limited now and was just elected Kent County Clerk. She’s widely expected to run for Secretary of State in a few years and is trying to make her mark now. People I have spoken with believe she’s pushing this voter suppression legislation now as a way to get leverage to have her all but useless “No-Excuse Absentee Voting” bill passed, legislation she has been trying unsuccessfully to get through the legislature for some time. That legislation would allow people to vote absentee without an excuse as is currently required. However, they would still have to vote in-person making it a half-step toward expanding voting access at best. […]

Lyons used her position as Chair of the House Elections Committee to (a) introduce the legislation on Tuesday, (b) hold a single, unscheduled hearing to take testimony on Wednesday, and (c) hold a second unscheduled Elections Committee meeting on Thursday to pass the legislation and send it to the full House to be voted on as early as next week.

After the original bill left the Elections Committee, it had one very important change inserted in it. It’s this sentence that is in the modified version (Substitute H-5) and NOT in the original version:

SEC. 523C. FOR THE 2016-2017 FISCAL YEAR, $10,000,000.00 IS APPROPRIATED FROM THE GENERAL FUND TO THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE FOR ELECTION MODERNIZATIONS, VOTER EDUCATION, AND IMPLEMENTATION OF THE VOTER IDENTIFICATION PROVISIONS.

That $10 million appropriate makes the legislation referendum-proof (or as I like to call it, “Democracy-proof”), immune from being overturned by the citizens of Michigan through our referendum process. It’s the same sort of bullshit Michigan Republicans pulled when they replaced the original Emergency Managers law just a few short weeks after voters shot it down in the 2012 election as well as a bill allowing wolf hunting in Michigan and their recent attempt to do away with straight-ticket voting in our state.

To put this very bluntly, Republicans do NOT want the citizens of this state interfering with their complete and total consolidation of political power in Michigan.

Make sure your state legislators hear from you on this issue. Call your State Representative and Senator and make sure that he or she votes AGAINST all three of these disgusting pieces of voter suppression legislation. You can find your Senator HERE and your Representative HERE.

  • Jeff Gaynor

    $10 Million – to do what?

    • Paul Kulling

      Basically to make the voter suppression law Democracy-proof.

  • Ken DeBusk

    Why don’t we just amend the constitution to remove that “if we put a couple of dollars in here, they can’t change it” section? I’ve seen this bite democracy on the a$$ many times in the past few years. None of them made much sense except that they didn’t want us voting on it.

    • That sounds easy but it’s very expensive and challenging to change the constitution by citizen referendum. It can be done but it’s a tremendous organizing effort that will be fought tooth and nail by Republicans and their corporatist overseers. There are ongoing talks about making that happen, however. A non-partisan redistricting commission is another effort that needs that sort of action, in my opinion.

      • Ken DeBusk

        Sign me up on your redistricting idea, too :)

        I have said for years that if I were in charge, things might not be better but they darned sure would be different!

  • Mark Mudry

    Looks like a coming battle in Federal court. It will be examined on its legal standing. Just because those yahoo’s pass this BS with its anti-referendum killing appropriation add-ons, doesn’t make it legal. Any Constitutional scholars out there? If you can’t change the Constitution, use it.

  • I may not be a lawyer, but…

    Art III, sec 9, clause 1 – MI Constitution:
    The people reserve to themselves the power to propose laws and to enact and reject laws, called the initiative, and the power to approve or reject laws enacted by the legislature, called the referendum. The power of initiative extends only to laws which the legislature may enact under this constitution. The power of referendum does not extend to acts making appropriations for state institutions or to meet deficiencies in state funds and must be invoked in the manner prescribed by law within 90 days following the final adjournment of the legislative session at which the law was enacted. To invoke the initiative or referendum, petitions signed by a number of registered electors, not less than eight percent for initiative and five percent for referendum of the total vote cast for all candidates for governor at the last preceding general election at which a governor was elected shall be required.

    Note: “The power of referendum does not extend to acts making appropriations
    for state institutions or to meet deficiencies in state funds”

    The question is: What constitutes a state institution or deficiency in state funds.

    Art IV, sec47: “The legislature may authorize the employment of chaplains in state institutions of detention or confinement.”

    This strongly suggests that prisons & jails are institutions. Universities, schools, libraries, and other semi-autonomous state entities are also implied, are they not? They are certainly referred to as such in other parts of the MI Constitution.

    Art IV, sec 53, clause 1 (partial):
    “The auditor general shall conduct post audits of financial transactions and accounts of the state and of all branches, departments, offices, boards, commissions, agencies, authorities and institutions of the state established by this constitution or by law, and performance post audits thereof.”

    This strongly suggests that “state institutions” does not include the Department of State, making the immunity from referendum argument subject to challenge.

    “deficiencies in state funds” sounds to me like revenue shortfall relative to spending. I don’t think that a reasonable voter would think this includes new spending.

    Finally, voters are empowered to make law via Initiative. Laws that cannot be vetoed by the governor or amended or repealed by anyone but the voters themselves. That’s as close to a constitutional amendment as you’re going to get.

  • Laurie Tata

    The amount of misinformation out there regarding voter fraud is astounding and easily drowns out the facts. If you do an internet search on voter fraud, mostly all you get are stories from fake news sites that list how ‘widespread,’ and ‘common,’ it is, when in reality it is anything but. The average voter is unaware of the laws that cover voter registration and polling places.

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