Michigan Senate Passes Legislation to Add Voter ID Requirements: ‘Overwhelmingly Popular’

By Jack Phillips
Jack Phillips
Jack Phillips
Breaking News Reporter
Jack Phillips is a senior reporter for The Epoch Times based in New York. He covers breaking news.
June 16, 2021Updated: June 16, 2021

Michigan’s Republican-led Senate on June 16 passed several bills that, if signed into law, would implement more voter identification requirements for in-person voters and absentee voters, adding Michigan to a growing list of states pursuing more stringent election measures.

All Senate Republicans voted in favor of the three bills, while every Senate Democrat opposed them.

Current law stipulates that Michigan residents who don’t have photo identification when they vote in person can still cast their ballot if they sign an affidavit at their designated polling location. More than 11,000 individuals cast ballots this way during the Nov. 3 election, according to election officials.

With one bill, which passed in the Senate 19–16, that process would be barred, and voters who don’t have identification would have to cast a provisional ballot and confirm their identity up to six days after casting their vote.

The Senate also voted 19–16 to pass a bill that would mandate that applicants who seek absentee ballots provide their driver’s license number, their official state identification number if they don’t have a license, or the last four digits of their Social Security number. According to the legislation’s text, applicants could attach or present a copy of their identification to their applications.

Another bill that was approved by the Senate on June 16, again in a 19–16 vote, stipulates that voters who receive a provisional ballot have to be notified of the six-day requirement to verify their identity.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, is expected to veto the three bills. Previously, she’s expressed opposition to Republican-backed bills targeting the state’s voting laws and has pledged to veto them.

However, Republicans can circumvent Whitmer’s executive authority and can start a petition to create a ballot initiative for the three voting bills. They would need more than 340,000 voters to sign it.

The Epoch Times has contacted the governor’s office for comment.

Democrats, as they have in other states, characterized the Republican-backed bills as attempts to suppress voter turnout rates.

“The most fundamental right we have is to vote,” Sen. Adam Hollier, a Democrat, said on the Senate floor. “It should be easy.”

Republicans, however, said the measure wasn’t a partisan power grab and that both parties would benefit from enhanced regulations.

“We hear a lot about how ‘There’s only this little bit of fraud,’ and therefore nothing else is needed,” said Sen. Ed McBroom, a Republican. “But just because you can say we caught this amount of fraud isn’t somehow compelling proof that there wasn’t more that wasn’t caught.”

Another Republican lawmaker pointed to polls that show that most Americans support laws that require that voters verify their identity.

“It is overwhelmingly popular among voters that they verify their identity to vote,” Republican Sen. Lana Theis said.

With the bills’ approval by the Senate, Michigan joins a growing list of states that have opted to pass legislation targeting election laws and rules that Republicans have said are too lax and can easily be exploited. Last week, Republicans in Pennsylvania proposed a measure that would overhaul the commonwealth’s election system.

The bill includes more stringent voter identification requirements and mail-ballot signature verification. Among other regulations, the legislation would eliminate the state’s permanent mail-in voting list, establish a new Bureau of Election Audits agency, and allow early in-person voting starting in 2025.

This year, legislatures in Florida, Georgia, and Texas approved similar bills amid criticism from Democrats, including members of the Biden administration.