June 2, 2023

Michigan SOS Benson denounces GOP voting package as ‘voter suppression’

On Wednesday, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson held a second press conference denouncing Michigan Senate Republican’s 39-bill voting package.

“The bills that make up the majority of this legislative package do nothing to advance the integrity of our democracy, they simply undo many of the policies that made last year’s election the most accessible and secure in our state’s history,” Benson said. “Instead of working across the aisle to listen to clerks, the state Bureau of Elections, or voters, those behind these bills choose to ignore the data, truth and best practices and promote policies that will silence the voices of all voters. Their actions are an embarrassment and an affront to every citizen they are sworn to serve.”

Benson criticized SB 285 that seeks to require voters to show ID when voting in person and when requesting an absentee ballot. Benson contended that it’s easier to forge a fake ID than to forge a signature, claiming the provision would lead to a higher number of identity thefts.

Other bills in the GOP package aim to authorize video recording of election audit proceedings, regulate absent voter drop boxes, bar prepaid postage for absentee ballot return envelopes, limit access to the qualified voter file, and end private funding of public elections.

Election Committee Chair Sen. Ruth Johnson, R-Holly, called the press conference “pre-planned.”

“This kind of language is like WWE for politics. It’s all pre-planned and staged, just-for-show rhetoric, Johnson said in a statement. “By nature, this process is bipartisan. These bills haven’t even gone through the committee process—during that period we will take input from all sides and all stakeholders before going to the next chamber for their process. And then, of course, they will be on a Democratic governor’s desk for her signature.”

Benson also opposed SB 308, which seeks to establish and require signature verification training for all county, city, and township clerks and for all precinct inspectors, saying it would require “overly specific and restrictive” signature verification” but didn’t explain how.

Benson failed to mention her lax signature-matching directive was struck down post-election by a Michigan judge as “invalid” since it skipped the proper rulemaking process.

Ingham County Clerk Barb Byrum condemned the bills, noting the bill regulating dropboxes would require expensive video monitoring which she called “cost-prohibitive.”

“The bills in this package show no trace of the expertise, insight and data that have been shared with legislators in good faith by election administrators on both sides of the aisle,” Byrum said. “Sensible improvements to our election processes are needed, but those reforms should make our elections more inclusive, more efficient and more secure. Instead, these bills amount to a willful malicious attempt to strip voting rights away from Michigan’s citizens.”

The Senate GOP has defended the bills as seeking to “restore trust” in elections. Even if the GOP-dominated Legislature approved the bills, Whitmer could still veto them.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said: “Despite what the sponsors of these bills claim, the true intent of these bills is clear: to make it harder for people in Detroit and other communities like it to vote. The arbitrary requirements and restrictions in these bills will do nothing to make elections more secure, they will disenfranchise voters and cost us all in the long run.”

Duggan claimed the bill seeking to bar prepaid postage for absentee ballot discriminated against low-income families who can’t afford stamps, while the bill requiring someone requesting an absentee attach a copy of a driver’s license discriminated against those without access to printers.

Three of the GOP voter bills will be heard in a Senate Election Committee at 2 p.m. today.

This article was originally posted on Michigan SOS Benson denounces GOP voting package as ‘voter suppression’

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