Michigan Governor Rick Snyder signed 11 election-related bills, most of them positive, though narrow, but made news by vetoing three of the most controversial bills that would have taken Michigan along the path towards voter suppression that other GOP-led states are traveling. In doing so, he has enraged part of his base, and earned the (grudging?) respect of Progressives who were only recently engaged in a doomed effort to recall him.
Former Democratic Secretary of State candidate Jocelyn Benson: “This is a victory for every voter in this state, and a great nod to tomorrow’s holiday. Congratulations to all who worked to amplify peoples’ voices and emphasize the negative impact the vetoed portions of this package would have on our citizens and elections officials. Happy 4th of July, everyone!”
Spokesman for Republican Speaker of the House Jase Bolger: “Speaker Bolger appreciates Gov. Snyder signing many election reforms today, but is deeply disappointed in the vetoes of other very reasonable reforms designed to protect the integrity of one of the most sacred rights in the United States, …”
I have fiercely opposed many of the initiatives Gov. Snyder has undertaken, but he has never struck me as a movement conservative. That is, he always has thoughtful reasons for what he does, and does not let himself be guided by an inflexible ideology. After these vetoes, I must give him due credit for not falling for the fake voter fraud stories, and seeing these bills for what they were. I may not agree with what he does next, but I respect him a lot more after today.
Gov’s office: http://www.michigan.gov/snyder/0,4668,7-277-57577_57657-281734–,00.html
Senate Bill 751 streamlines the voter registration process. It enables courts to monitor the voter registration status of people who have surrendered their Michigan driver license and could be registered to vote in multiple states.
— This will have court oversight, and is a common-sense measure to prevent people from having multiple registrations in several states.
H.B. 5062 and S.B. 752 ensure proper handling of election materials by establishing election clerk education programs as well as a post-election review process. On-site ballots and absentee ballots must be printed using the same format to provide consistency for election officials responsible for reporting results.
— This is an important and much-needed measure which will tighten up and standardize practice among municipal clerks.
H.B. 5059 and S.B. 753 require any political party attempting to qualify as a new recognized party in Michigan to report on their spending. All independent committees must also file a quarterly spending report.
— More financial transparency — always a good thing. Although I wish we had it in other areas as well.
H.B. 5058 prohibits the use of campaign funds to pay for a candidate’s legal expenses in cases unrelated to running for office. Any unauthorized legal costs must be paid for using a separate fund. The bill ensures donors that their funds are used only for campaign-related expenses.
— There are precedents for pols using campaign funds to do this; good idea to forbid it.
S.B.s 823, 824 and 825 improve transparency of the election process. Any ballot or petition language must be submitted to the Secretary of State prior to circulation of the petition and the Secretary of State will post this language to its website for easy voter access. The bills also prohibit posing as an election official in a polling place on Election Day and move the deadline for a candidate to file nomination petitions to the 15th Tuesday before the primary rather than the 12th or 14th Tuesday.
— First two provisions are good. The third (earlier filing deadline) is going to make it tougher to qualify and make candidates decide earlier — may decrease participation. Don’t like this one.
H.B. 5297 allows members of the U.S. armed forces and overseas U.S. citizens to vote in state and local elections by absentee ballot. Military members and overseas citizens already have access to federal elections via the same means.
— About time! Can’t believe this was not already law.
H.B. 4656 prohibits the name of any elected official or any person running for official office to appear on any ballot related materials. It is already law that no candidate can display material within 100 feet of a polling place. With regard to an absentee ballot, the envelope and related materials is identified as a polling place, therefore no official names may appear on the envelope.
— Good catch of a loophole!
Senate Bill 754 sought training for people, companies and organizations participating in voter registration. While Snyder supports the concept of training individuals involved in voter registration, he said changes with the registration of third party voter registration organizations, and the timing and training of those entities, may cause confusion with ongoing voter registration efforts.
— This would have REQUIRED training of all people participating in voter registration drives, e.g. League of Women Voters, and increased penalties for any anomalies, such as to cripple these drives which increase minority and disadvantaged participation. Very pleased — and surprised — he vetoed this.
H.B. 5061 and S.B. 803 aimed to prevent voting fraud by requiring a voter to reaffirm U.S. citizenship before receiving a ballot and requiring photo ID when picking up an absentee ballot from a city office. Snyder said he appreciates the issue of ensuring voters are eligible and U.S. citizens, however this legislation could create voter confusion among absentee voters.
— The biggest proposed move towards suppression in Michigan — and an important veto by the Governor.