Runestad blasts governor’s veto of election integrity

LANSING, Mich.Sen. Jim Runestad on Friday criticized Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s veto of a package of bills that would have strengthened ID requirements for voting and made it easier for residents to get a free state ID card.

“Gov. Whitmer continues to show her hand as one of the most partisan governors in Michigan history, choosing divisive political soundbites over her duty to implement commonsense public policy,” said Runestad, R-White Lake. “She brazenly vetoes any election-related legislation that reaches her desk under a deceptive claim that any effort to ensure election security aims to lock out residents from this most important civic right and duty. It seems almost as if she has declared a personal war on election integrity.”

Among the bills vetoed Friday by the governor were Senate Bills 303 and 304, along with House Bill 5007.

SB 303 would have required voters to show proper ID when voting in person and required absentee voters to write their Michigan driver’s license number or state ID card number on their absentee ballot application to verify their identity. Voters could also have written the last four digits of their social security number on their application or presented their ID to their clerk to get an absentee ballot. It also would have prohibited the use of third-party money for elections administration in Michigan and banned the secretary of state or other government officials from sending unsolicited absentee ballot applications to voters.

A statewide poll  from the Detroit Regional Chamber and the Glengariff Group in May 2021 showed that 79.7% of Michigan voters support requiring “every voter coming to the polls present a government-issued identification to cast their ballot” — that included 100% of strong Republicans, 83.4% of Independents, and 58.4% of strong Democrats. A recent Monmouth University poll found that four out of every five Americans (80%) support showing ID to vote.

SB 304 would have allowed in-person voters without proper ID and absentee voters who fail to fill in the identifying information to cast a provisional ballot and return to their local clerk within six days after the election to verify their identity so their vote can be counted. HB 5007 would have made official state personal ID cards free for Michigan residents.

On Oct. 3, the governor vetoed the bipartisan-passed House Bills 4492, 4528, 4837 and 4838 which would have allowed for additional polling place locations to be created at a limited list of specific private locations, required training for election challengers and increased training for election workers about the role of challengers; prohibited unapproved third parties from accessing the Qualified Voter File, and banned voting machines and the electronic poll book from being connected to the internet during Election Day.

“Republicans and Democrats had come together to increase polling locations and provide improved training for election workers and poll challengers, but the governor struck these down,” Runestad said.  “Additionally, a recent auditor general report found we need to strengthen the security of our state’s voter file, but the governor vetoed a bill — supported by Michigan’s county clerks — to ensure third parties can’t access these sensitive files. The governor’s vetoes of these bills earlier this month were simply unfathomable.”

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