Earlier in the spring the Michigan Senate Republicans introduced a giant voter reform bill package, 39 bills, aimed at securing the state’s election system. Since then, a debate has raged in Lansing over the true meaning of these attempts.
The first bills in the package were voted on Wednesday.
“You know you got to decide who’s telling the truth,” said Senator Jim Ananich, a democrat from Flint, “And who’s not.”
Three bills passed right on party lines in the Senate Wednesday, all three focused on changing voter identification requirements to vote.
All three were sponsored by Republicans.
“We must show ID for many things in our lives,” said Senator Ruth Johnson, a republican from Holly and a former Secretary of State, “Including getting on an airplane or getting a bank account or buying alcohol or even applying for a fishing license online.”
One of the bills would tighten requirements for applying for an absentee ballot while the other two would require a provisional ballot be used and how, if a proper ID could not be used when voting in person. Currently, you could just sign an affidavit, claiming you are who you are.
“That’s already the requirement to register to vote by mail,” said Senator Ed McBroom, a republican from Vulcan, “That’s already what’s being required, this isn’t remaking things.”
“Voter fraud is not an issue in Michigan,” said Senator Curtis Hertel, a democrat from East Lansing, “Period.”
This sparked a debate on the floor between the two sides. Republicans saying it is common sense security steps and democrats saying it’s voter suppression.
“I see nothing in this bill or any other similar bill that would ensure that every single Michigan resident, 18 years and older, can have a free ID,” said Senator Mallory McMorrow, a democrat from Royal Oak.
The highly partisan bills are very unlikely to become law with Governor Gretchen Whitmer having the final say but democrats say they are fighting the message behind the bills.
“I think there’s no way to argue this is helping people to vote,” said Sen Ananich, “It’s just putting roadblock after roadblock and for no reason.”
These are just three of the 39 bills in the package. The other 36 bills are making their way through the process with no exact timeline of when, or if, they will get a full Senate floor vote.