Whitmer vetoes GOP-backed voter laws that toughened in-person ID and absentee ballot rules

As promised, Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Friday vetoed Republican-sponsored legislation that would have toughened in-person voter identification rules and required people to include additional information such as their driver’s license number on absentee ballot applications.

The governor said the bills would disproportionately hurt minority voters who are more likely to lack access to a photo ID on Election Day than white voters.

"Voting restrictions that produce such a racially disparate impact must never become law in this state," she wrote to lawmakers.

A GOP-affiliated ballot committee is circulating petitions that would enable the Republican-controlled Legislature to still enact a similar initiative next year regardless of Whitmer’s opposition.

The legislation also would have prohibited the secretary of state and clerks from mailing absentee ballot applications unless voters request them and banned private donations to help administer elections.

In Michigan, voters who go to a polling place without a photo ID can cast a regular ballot if they sign an affidavit. More than 11,400 did so in the November 2020 presidential election. Under the legislation, they would get a provisional ballot and have to verify their identity with the local clerk within six days of an election for their vote to count.

The governor said there is no evidence that affidavit ballots are related to voter fraud. Election fraud is extremely rare.