Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes ofwebsite accessibilityMichigan Senate approves controversial voting ID bill, adjourns after Democratic 'hijinks' | WPBN
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Michigan Senate approves controversial voting ID bill, adjourns after Democratic 'hijinks'

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LANSING, Mich. — The Republican-led Michigan Senate passed controversial legislation Wednesday that critics say would make it harder for Michiganders to vote and supporters say would mitigate voter fraud.

The Senate voted yes on Senate Bill 303, which would require in-person voters to show their ID at the polls. Should the legislation be signed into law, anyone voting absentee would be required to provide more ID information than currently needed to receive a ballot, including their driver's license number, their state ID card number, or the last four digits of their Social Security number.

It would also ban election officials from sending out absentee ballots unless they are specifically requested by voters. Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson has been criticized by some Republicans for her office's mailing of absentee ballots for the 2020 presidential election without voters requesting the ballots, in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The legislation is part of a larger package of bills Republicans have introduced in the wake of the 2020 presidential election, both in Michigan and nationally. Republicans in Michigan say the proposed legislation will improve the security of voting in the state.

“We’ve seen a continuation of that throughout the country of state Legislatures trying to make it harder for people to vote," said state Sen. Curtis Hertel, Jr., D-East Lansing. "At the end of the day, I believe in democracy and I believe that we have a fair voting system and Joe Biden won a fair election. And really at that point, we don’t need to change the laws anymore.”

If passed, Democrats say the bills would dramatically change the way Michigan voting procedures are done. Republicans in the Michigan Legislature have widely supported the bills.

“I don’t think it’s partisan at all, personally," said state Sen. Ruth Johnson, R-Holly. "I think making sure every voice is heard, every qualified voter gets an opportunity to vote, that’s - there’s nothing about that that’s for one side or the other.”

After SB 303 passed Wednesday and speeches were given, more bills remained on the agenda that would require more proof for voting and aim to provide free state ID cards. Before the bills were put up for a vote, Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist II motioned to end session for the day.

In a surprise and potentially accidental move, some Republicans crossed over to vote for the adjournment, pushing votes on the remaining election bills off to Thursday.

“A couple of their members apparently didn’t know what we were voting on,” Hertel said following the vote.

Some political observers noted they believed it was an attempt by Democrats to make a statement about the legislation by pushing it off further.

"The Democrats pulled some hijinks and I allowed us to be momentarily taken in," said Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake, in a statement. "But it will not happen again and we will prevail in the end. Michiganders deserve this reform."

Even if the voting bills pass Thursday, Whitmer is expected to veto them, as she did with four others over the weekend. Despite broad bipartisan support on some of the bills, the governor said they gave legitimacy to the false claim that the 2020 presidential election in Michigan was stolen.

Michigan Republicans have launched a ballot drive that, should it succeed, would institute ID changes in Michigan's voting system. If that ballot drive reaches 340,000 signatures within six months, it would successfully make its way onto the ballot and bypass Whitmer's veto pen.

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