Split Michigan Senate passes election-related bills

A divided Michigan Senate on Thursday passed election bills that would limit who can access the state voter file, keep voting equipment from being connected to the internet and require election challengers to receive training.

The legislation was supported by majority Republicans and opposed by all but one Democrat. The measures will go to Michigan Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer once the House approves changes.

The bills blocking outside groups' access to the voter database and prohibiting the connection of electronic pollbooks or voting systems to the internet would codify existing practice.

"It's a good idea to take this bill and take the best practices and put them into law so they can't be changed," Sen. Ruth Johnson, a Holly Republican and former secretary of state, said of the internet-connection legislation.

Democrats expressed concern that voting for the bills would corroborate lies about the 2020 presidential election. A GOP-led Senate committee, for instance, found no evidence that vote tabulators at Detroit's absentee counting operation were connected to the internet, debunking claims from some Republican poll challengers.

"We should not be passing bills in this chamber for things that already do not exist because all that does is perpetuate and validate a lie that is dangerous," said Sen. Mallory McMorrow, a Royal Oak Democrat.