In a surprising blow to conservative Michigan Republicans working to make it harder to vote in our state, Governor Rick Snyder vetoed three key components of a package of voter suppression bills. The move apparently caused House Speaker Jase Bolger to temporarily lose his mind.
In a stunning move Tuesday, Gov. Rick vetoed three election law bills pushed by Republican legislators seeking to require a ballot box affirmation of citizenship, restrict voter registration drives and require photo ID for obtaining an absentee ballot.
Snyder said he vetoed the absentee ballot bill, House Bill 5061, because it would not let an absentee ballot count if the person did not affirm their citizenship by the close of the polls on an Election Day.
“I am concerned (the bill) could create voter confusion among absentee voters,” Snyder wrote in a veto letter to legislators.
Under Senate Bill 754, lawmakers wanted to require third-party groups like the League of Women Voters who have been registering people to vote for decades to get mandatory training by the Secretary of State’s office or county election clerks.
But Snyder said the bill “may cause confusion with regard to voter registration efforts” and he vetoed the bill.
The Republican governor signed 11 other bills championed by Secretary of State Ruth Johnson.
Snyder also vetoed Senate Bill 803, which sought to require residents to check off a box on their ballot affirming they are, in fact, U.S. citizens.
“I appreciate the issue of ensuring that voters are properly qualified including the requirement that they are U.S. citizens,” Snyder wrote in a veto letter to legislators. “An alternative would be to simply include U.S. citizen in the voter’s opening declarative statement on the application.”
A copy of Governor Snyder’s letter to the legislature can be found HERE (pdf).
This stunning rebuke to Republican legislators apparently forced Speaker Bolger into a state of amnesia as he invoked the now-defunct voter registration group ACORN.
It is not unreasonable to expect that people handling voter registrations should receive some basic training,” Ari Adler, Bolger’s spokesman, said in a statement. “People who believe they are registering to vote should have confidence in the process so they know their registrations are being handled properly. Antics by unscrupulous groups such as ACORN have proven that protecting the voter registration process is vital if we hope to preserve the integrity of ballots cast by every eligible voter.
ACORN no longer exists and allegations that they engaged in voter fraud have been repeatedly debunked, facts that appear to have escaped the embarrassed Republican leader.
Kudos to Governor Snyder for this. He did the right thing and I commend him for it.
Mark Miller has an excellent run-down of some of the bills that were signed and those that were vetoed over Blogging for Michigan.
UPDATE: Favorable responses are coming in from around the state…
House Democratic Leader Richard E. Hammel:
I congratulate Gov. Rick Snyder on his brave decision to veto three of the more egregious bills in the voter suppression package. The package as a whole would have discouraged thousands of Michigan voters from going to the polls and disenfranchised many more while doing nothing to make elections more fair. Studies have repeatedly shown that Michigan has no problem with voter fraud. As the Governor said, Voting rights are precious and we need to work especially hard to make it possible for people to vote. House Democrats have always done more to encourage people to get out and vote, not put hurdles between them and the voting booth. I am glad to see that Gov. Snyder has sided with the House Democratic Caucus against some of the most harmful parts of this package.
Michigan State AFL-CIO President Karla Swift:
Governor Snyder did the right thing today by vetoing a controversial package of laws designed to make access to the ballot box more difficult. This is a great day for all Michigan voters, and the labor movement commends the governor for standing up to extremists in his own party.
Sue Smith, President of the League of Women Voters of Michigan:
On the eve of Independence Day, this is a huge victory for our American democracy. We want to thank Gov. Snyder for doing the right thing by vetoing this unfair and unjust legislation. While today’s action is a step in the right direction, the League of Women Voters will continue to educate voters about their rights to make sure every eligible voter can make their voice heard at the ballot box this November.
Melanie McElroy, Executive Director of Common Cause Michigan:
Gov. Snyder’s veto pen should send a strong message to Lansing politicians that it’s time to halt these voter suppression efforts once and for all. Our elected leaders need to stop the partisan games, and start working together to expand access to voting in Michigan.
Todd Cook, Director, We Are the People, Michigan:
Our right to vote has been protected – and that’s good news for Michigan.
Thousands and thousands of voters asked Governor Snyder to veto this ill-conceived legislation, including more than 2,800 people who signed a petition from our coalition of seniors, students and working families. We’re glad he listened to us.
There’s no good reason to make it harder for people to vote, or to make it harder for civic and community organizations to register voters. At a time when special interests and wealthy individuals have way too much influence over our electoral process, it’s more important than ever to keep the door to the voting booth open for everyone who wants to exercise their rights.
Congressman John Conyers, Jr.:
I was strongly opposed to the voting measures passed by the Republican controlled State House, and I am pleased Governor Snyder did the right thing and vetoed three of the measures. Instead of making it more difficult to register to vote and to vote, we should be reducing barriers to the ballot box. There is no more fundamental right in our democracy than the right to vote. I hope that both parties can work together in Lansing, Washington and around the nation to facilitate this precious right.
The Governor vetoed SB 754 which would have required a photo ID for voter registration and implemented new restrictive regulations on voter registration organizations; SB 803 which would have required individuals to attest to their citizenship when voting in person or by absentee ballot; and SB 5061 which would have required a photo ID for picking up absentee ballots in person. The Governor did not veto SB 751 which will create an inactive voter list and require absentee ballots from a class of voters on that list to be automatically challenged. I am concerned that this measure will prove harmful to voting, but appreciate the important vetoes of the other measures.
State Representative Barb Byrum:
Today, the people of the state of Michigan were made aware of some much needed good news coming from the state Capitol when Gov. Rick Snyder vetoed three of the most overreaching bills in a Republican package of legislation that would have made voting more difficult. The three bills, Senate Bills 755 and 803 and House Bill 5061, were the most troublesome and egregious attacks on our constitutional rights as citizens to have easy access to the voting booth. As the Democratic vice-chair on the Redistricting and Elections Committee I spoke out against this package and am overjoyed that the governor recognized bad legislation when he saw it and used his power to veto it.
Zack Pohl , Progress Michigan:
Gov. Snyder deserves credit for finally doing something truly tough as governor, by standing up to the extreme forces in his own party who are committed to suppressing the vote this November. It’s refreshing to see a Republican governor do the right thing by opposing this unfair and undemocratic legislation. Now it’s time for Ruth Johnson and Lansing Republicans to abandon their voter suppression agenda, and start focusing on expanding access to voting.
Jocelyn Benson, 2010 candidate for Michigan Secretary of State:
This is a victory for every voter in this state, and a great nod to tomorrow’s holiday. Congratulations to all who worked to amplify peoples’ voices and emphasize the negative impact the vetoed portions of this package would have on our citizens and elections officials. Happy 4th of July, everyone!
Rev. D. Alexander Bullock, Rainbow PUSH Michigan:
I applaud Gov. Snyder for vetoing this kind of divisive legislation. This is great news for Michigan voters. I now call on Gov. Snyder to uphold democratic freedoms even further by having the Board of Canvassers certify the Repeal Public Act 4 petitions so they will make it to the ballot in November and citizens can decide whether emergency management should be a reality in Michigan.
Rev. Charles Williams II, National Action Network, Michigan Chapter:
The Civil Rights community is thankful that the Governor heard our cry and did not sign these suppressive bills. However, we also hope that he utilizes his office to ensure democracy is safeguarded by placing Public Act 4 on the ballot. Over 200000 signatures collected and certified but yet it’s still not on the ballot.