Another slate of ‘voter suppression’ bills make it through Senate

By: - October 7, 2021 1:21 pm

Michigan Capitol | Susan J. Demas

Republicans in the Senate passed a bill Thursday to eliminate the fee to obtain a state ID card, but tie-barred it to another bill that Democrats argue will make it harder for Michiganders to vote. 

House Bill 5007, introduced by Rep. Ryan Berman (R-Commerce Twp.), would drop the $10 fee for issuing state ID cards, late renewal of a state ID or changing a residence address on a state ID. 

The bill is tied to Senate Bill 303, which would require in-person voters and absentee voters to present their state IDs when voting. The bill also prohibits election officials from sending unsolicited absentee ballot applications, something that stirred controversy during the 2020 presidential election. 

Sen. Erika Geiss | Nick Manes

“This is the same language that is being used across this nation, from sea to shining sea, to make it more difficult for people to vote. That is an abomination and we should not be taking any part in that process. This is disgusting, it’s despicable,” said Sen. Erika Geiss (D-Taylor). 

Sen. Jim Ananich (D-Flint) offered an amendment to break that tie bar, but it was ultimately struck down. 

“If this bill is truly about making IDs more accessible, then just let it stand on its own merit rather than tying it to a toxic bill that is designed to make it harder for people to vote,” Ananich said on the floor. “I have to ask what the motive is here. Is it really about getting people IDs or is it about perpetuating the big lie? Seems pretty clear to me.”

Sen. Mallory McMorrow (D-Royal Oak) offered an amendment to HB 5007 to ensure Michigan can appropriately fund the effort, but it was struck down by the Republican majority. 

Both HB 5007 and SB 303 passed along party lines. 

Senate Bill 304, introduced by Sen. Curtis VanderWall (R-Ludington), also passed through the Senate along party lines Thursday. The bill allows voters who failed to present their photo ID at the ballot box six days to go to their local clerk’s office and present their photo ID. 

These bills were planned to be taken up for a vote on Wednesday, but in an unusual move to postpone the vote, Senate Minority Floor Leader Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit) moved to adjourn. Three Republicans voted with Democrats to adjourn, which some believe was done mistakenly. 

“The Senate Democrats were sort of getting sick and tired of having to deal with these voter suppression bills. We wanted to remind the majority party that we’re here and we’re going to keep fighting in whatever way we can. Michiganders deserve the freedom to vote,” Chang told the Advance after Wednesday’s session. 

However, Republicans didn’t appreciate the stealthy move to adjourn. 

Sen. Ken Horn (R-Frankenmuth) said Thursday that it is his “hope that my colleagues on the other side of the aisle will respect my right to vote today, and that we can agree that voter integrity is indeed a worthwhile cause.”

Sen. Ed McBroom, Oct. 7, 2021 | Allison R. Donahue

Sen. Ed McBroom (R-Vulcan) argued that the bills aren’t suppressing Michiganders’ ability to vote, but instead reforming election laws and putting in place safeguards.

“This is two days in a row that we’ve heard the ridiculous summation and dismissal of election reforms by somehow creating the false comparison that to vote yes on reforming current law is tantamount to saying that what’s gone on in previous law is all bad, and that those who voted no are saying that current law is all good,” McBroom said. “If that’s the case, the motion yesterday to adjourn should have been a motion to adjourn sine die [signaling the end of the legislative term].”

Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer vetoed voting restriction bills on Sunday, saying they were part of “calculated misinformation” about the 2020 election that former President Donald Trump lost.

Republicans also have a ballot measure. If the Secure MI Vote campaign gathers enough signatures, the initiative first goes to the GOP-controlled Legislature for approval. Whitmer lacks the power to veto that.

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Allison R. Donahue
Allison R. Donahue

Allison R. Donahue covers education, women's issues and LGBTQ issues. Previously, she was a suburbs reporter at the St. Cloud Times in St. Cloud, Minn., covering local education and government. As a graduate of Grand Valley State University, she has previous experience as a freelance researcher for USA Today and an intern with WOOD TV-8. When she is away from her desk, she spends her time going to concerts, comedy shows or getting lost on hikes in different places around the world.