Gov. Gretchen Whitmer | Whitmer office photo
Updated, 10:21 a.m. 10/4/21 with comments from the NAACP
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Sunday vetoed three Republican election bills introduced after former President Donald Trump lost the 2020 election as part of a nationwide right-wing effort to restrict voting and change election rules. She also vetoed a fourth measure she said lacked the proper funding. Whitmer vetoed the bills at the 66th annual NAACP Freedom Fund Dinner in Detroit.
Despite Trump’s loss in Michigan and other key states, he and his supporters have continued to spread misinformation and conspiracy theories. Whitmer said in the veto letter obtained by the Michigan Advance that they were an “attempt to suppress the vote or perpetuate the ‘Big Lie’: the calculated disinformation campaign to discredit the 2020 election. I will have no part in any effort that grants an ounce of credence to this deception, so injurious to our democracy.”
Biden defeated Trump by more than 154,000 votes in Michigan. The GOP-led Senate Oversight Committee in June issued a 35-page election report concluded there was no evidence of widespread voter fraud in Michigan and debunked several conspiracy theories.
“The 2020 election was free, secure, and accurate. The results were certified and officially audited by trusted local election officials, as required by law,” Whitmer said in her letter to lawmakers. “Judges appointed by both Republicans and Democrats rejected more than 60 lawsuits challenging the outcome.”
The vetoed legislation is House Bills 4837, 4838, 4492 and 4528, which passed the Senate last week.
HB 4837, sponsored by Rep. Sarah Lightner (R-Springport), restricts who has access to the qualified voter file. Whitmer called out the bill because it “implies that outside parties had access to the state’s qualified voter file [in the 2020 election]. They did not.”
HB 4838, introduced by state Rep. Phil Green (R-Millington), would prohibit internet access to voting machines — rooted in a right-wing conspiracy theory that this happened during the 2020 election. Whitmer noted in her veto letter that the bill “implies that electronic poll books were connected to the internet and vulnerable to tampering. They never were.”
HB 4492, sponsored by Rep. Ann Bollin (R-Brighton), would expand polling place locations. But Whitmer vetoed it because she said it would “make it more difficult for seniors and persons living in large apartment complexes to vote.”
The last bill, HB 4528, sponsored by Rep. Bryan Posthumus (R-Cannon Twp.), would require the secretary of state to provide more training for election challengers. Whitmer said the bill “is worth further consideration, it must have the necessary funding to accomplish its purpose.”
“I am laser focused on kitchen-table issues that get things done for Michiganders, like fixing the roads, ensuring clean water, and providing good-paying jobs,” she said. “We can and should work together on election policy, as well – but only in ways that strengthen our democracy. I am ready to join hands with anyone who shares these goals.”
NAACP Detroit Chapter President, the Rev. Wendell Anthony, said in a statement that “the governor demonstrated once again that she is the people’s governor. She is the governor wherever she is from her desk in Lansing to a dinner at the NAACP. She is still Big Gretch and has the pen to prove it!”
Since Republicans anticipated that Whitmer would veto voting restriction bills, they have a Plan B with 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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