State Republicans pushing a new voting law are threatening to use a rarely invoked option to circumvent a promised veto by the governor. And Michigan businesses are trying to get out ahead of the issue.
The Michigan GOP, inspired by Trump’s election fraud lies, will begin holding hearings on Wednesday on a package of 39 voting bills that would particularly disenfranchise minority voters, many in Detroit, the state’s largest city with a majority Black population.
The Republican proposal would prohibit the secretary of state from mailing unsolicited applications for absentee ballots to voters, require voters to mail in a photocopied or scanned ID to receive an absentee ballot, and restrict the use of absentee ballot drop boxes, among other rule changes. These measures would roll back some of the expanded access to absentee ballots that Michigan voters approved, by a two-to-one margin, in a 2018 vote to amend the Constitution.
Michigan has divided government, with GOP legislative control and a Democratic governor, Gretchen Whitmer. Republican opposition to Governor Whitmer has intensified during the pandemic.
Michigan is also one of nine states that allow voters to petition lawmakers to take up legislation. A petition would have to be signed by 10% of the vote in the last governor’s election, in this case 340,047 valid signatures, which would likely be relatively easy to accomplish. If passed, the law is not subject to a governor’s veto. If the Legislature does not pass the bill within 40 days of receiving it, the measure goes before voters on the next statewide ballot.
Ron Weiser, the state’s Republican Party chairman, told supporters in a video reported on by The Detroit News that the state party planned to subsidize a petition drive to cut Ms. Whitmer out of the lawmaking process. Weiser also called the governor, secretary of state, and attorney general witches.
The chief executives of 30 of Michigan’s largest companies, including Ford, General Motors and Quicken Loans, announced their opposition on Tuesday to changes in the state’s election laws that would make voting harder — an apparent effort to get ahead of the issue, rather than come under pressure after laws are passed, as happened to two big Georgia-based companies, Coca-Cola and Delta Air Lines.
In a letter, the company leaders said election laws “must be developed in a bipartisan fashion to preserve public confidence,” and warned against passing laws that reduce voting by “historically disenfranchised communities, persons with disabilities, older adults, racial minorities and low-income voters.’’