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Gov. Whitmer vetoes 4 election bills, citing 'Big Lie'

October 5, 2021
<p>Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer during her State of the State address at the Michigan State Capitol building in Lansing on Jan. 29, 2020.</p>

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer during her State of the State address at the Michigan State Capitol building in Lansing on Jan. 29, 2020.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer vetoed four bills impacting Michigan’s elections at the NAACP’s Freedom Fund Dinner Oct. 3.

Surrounded by Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, Whitmer signed a letter vetoing the four measures.

“I will always protect our civil rights and stand up for our democracy that countless Americans have fought to preserve,” Whitmer said in a press release.“That’s why I vetoed legislation that would have perpetuated the ‘Big Lie’ or made it harder for Michiganders to vote.”

Whitmer said in the press release that Michigan Republicans are a part of a “coordinated, national attack on voting rights that is designed to undermine confidence in our election system and systematically disenfranchise Black voters, communities of color, older voters, and college students.”

NAACP Detroit President Rev. Wendell Anthony, also in attendance, praised Whitmer’s decision to veto these measures.

“The governor demonstrated once again that she is the people’s governor," Anthony said in the press release. "She is still 'Big Gretch' and has the pen to prove it!”

The bills that Whitmer vetoed constituted several changes to Michigan’s election process.

H.B. 4492 would have changed the process for establishing local polling places, making them “more difficult to locate,” Whitmer said. The measure would have allowed municipalities to establish polling places in senior living facilities and large apartment complexes in certain circumstances.

Whitmer said that H.B. 4837 “incorrectly implies that third parties have access to the Qualified Voter File,” which they do not — the Qualified Voter File is “the official file for the conduct of all elections held in this state,” according to its establishing law.

H.B. 4838 would prohibit voting machines from being connected to the internet after voting starts on Election Day, a practice that Whitmer said “addresses a non-existent problem” because “poll books currently are not connected to the internet on election day and until the results have been tabulated for that precinct.”

Finally, Whitmer vetoed H.B. 4528, which would have changed training requirements for election challengers. Whitmer noted that while this measure is “worth further consideration, it must have the necessary funding to accomplish its purpose” and that this bill didn’t address that aspect.

Each of these bills passed the House with around 20 votes from Democrats, in addition to near-unanimous Republican support.

The Michigan Republican Party, or MIGOP, issued a statement early Monday morning condemning Whitmer’s vetoes of these bills, saying that the measures were “aimed at protecting our democracy by strengthening the security of our elections.”

“It's clear Gretchen Whitmer isn't interested in protecting democracy," MIGOP Communications Director Gustavo Portela said in a statement. "She's more interested in grand standing and pandering rather than strengthening the security of our elections. This will change when we retire her next year and elect a new Republican Governor.”

Rep. Ann Bollin, R-Brighton Township, chair of the House Elections and Ethics Committee, also responded to the vetoes in a statement.

“Governor Whitmer is playing politics again!" Bollin said. "She vetoed bills her Democratic House members supported as common sense election reforms.”

“Once again Governor Whitmer is taking a cheap and easy shot in front of a captive audience tonight in Detroit," Bollin wrote in a Facebook post. "Even the [Secretary of State] was neutral and didn't formally oppose these bills. These bills passed the House months ago — some with almost unanimous support.”

The legitimacy of the 2020 election has been long contested often by Republican politicians across the country, prompting Democrats to respond. Last month, Benson appeared at an Ingham County event and said that there were bills being proposed in the legislature that would “make it easier to overturn an election, to interfere with election counting, to even make it easier to threaten election administrators in the future."

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