Michigan Republicans Pushing Undemocratic Voting Changes

Matthew Donnellon

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A month ago, the nation witnessed a bold attempt to circumvent the democratic process when the Republican Party in Georgia put forth a number of measures to restrict who could vote.

This came when the state elected two Democratic Senators, as well as casting its electoral votes for Joe Biden in the last election.

Michigan’s Republican party recently unveiled a group of similar measures that would also make it harder to vote.

Michigan Republicans are looking to make the following changes.

They want to make it easier for poll watches to observe the process and poll practices during vote counting.

Also, it would require the Secretary of State to get legislative approval to use federal funds for election, giving the State House and Senate far more control than it already does.

But the real kicker is Bill 310 would make it much harder to get an absentee ballot. If this law passes then one would only be able to get an absentee ballot would be to apply in person or through the mail. This would be a drastic change from the last election when Secretary of State Benson emailed the application to eligible voters. If this law passes, the Secretary of State wouldn’t even be allowed to include a link on the website.

On top of these measures, the bills try to sneak Voter ID laws into the measure by requiring people to mail a photocopy of their ID if they want to vote by absentee ballot.

The reason they want to do this is clear. After losing by thin margins in the state, Republicans have decided it would be a lot better if they could just make it so certain people couldn’t vote.

For instance, people who couldn’t take the day off work. People who may not have photographic identification. People who may not be able to drive to a voting precinct.

The Guardian recently covered Michigan’s new voting restriction bills, in which they said, “the Republican effort to roll back voting rights in Michigan looks similar to what’s happening in states around the country: after Donald Trump narrowly lost a key battleground state where there was record turnout, Republicans are moving swiftly to implement sweeping restrictions to curtail access to the ballot box.”

However, the problem is worse than it appeared. Now Republicans have decided that it is not enough to pass restrictive voting laws aimed at disenfranchising certain people, now they are bypassing the democratic process altogether.

Since the new bills would most likely be vetoed by Governor Whitmer, Republicans might just bulldoze their agenda right through, “Republicans are already hinting they will use a loophole to implement the measures anyway. They can take advantage of a quirk in Michigan’s law allowing voters to send a bill to the legislature if just over 340,000 voters sign a petition asking them to take it up. These kinds of bills cannot be vetoed by the governor.

Michigan’s Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson blasted the attempt saying that not only was it was un-democratic. She is right. They would be forcing a law through without being voted on, the exact antithesis of democracy.

Republicans need these measures as the clock is ticking for them since Michigan voted redraw voting districts to address heavily gerrymandered areas, a move that would not benefit Republicans.

Because of the gravity and stunning disregard for the democratic process, opponents to these initiatives are considering rival ballot initiatives to counter Republican attempts to ram legislature through, according to Nancy Wang, executive director of Voters Not Politicians, who said, “Faced with this threat, all options are on the table," she said, adding that she hoped corporations and voters could pressure Republicans not to pass these measures in the first place. "If we need to go to the ballot again to protect voters, then we will do so."

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Matthew Donnellon is a writer, artist, and sit down comedian. He is the author of The Curious Case of Emma Lee and Other Stories

Detroit, MI
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