Whitmer vetoes election bills, says they perpetuate lies

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LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer vetoed several Republican-sponsored election bills, saying they would have perpetuated falsehoods to discredit the 2020 presidential election and made it tougher for people living in large senior facilities and apartment complexes to vote.

Two measures would have codified existing practices by limiting access to Michigan’s voter database and keeping electronic pollbooks and voting systems from being connected to the internet on Election Day. The bills implied that outside parties had access to the file and that electronic pollbooks were connected online when neither was the case, the governor wrote to lawmakers.

She also blocked a measure that would have expanded the types of buildings that can be polling places to include private conference centers and recreation clubhouses. It included a provision to let municipalities put polling places at senior facilities and apartment complexes with at least 150 residents, as they can now, but only if public buildings like schools were “not reasonably available for use or convenient to use.”

Whitmer vetoed the legislation Sunday night at the NAACP Detroit branch’s annual Fight For Freedom Fund Dinner. The bills, she said, “attempt to suppress the vote or perpetuate the ‘Big Lie’ — the calculated disinformation campaign to discredit the 2020 election. I will have no part in any effort that grants an ounce of credence to this deception, so injurious to our democracy.”

The Michigan Republican Party criticized the governor.

“She’s more interested in grandstanding and pandering rather than strengthening the security of our elections,” spokesman Gustavo Portela said.

A nationwide campaign by the GOP, fueled in part by the false narrative of widespread fraud in last year’s presidential election, has led to a wave of new voting laws across the U.S. that will tighten access to the ballot for millions of Americans. The restrictions especially target voting methods that have been rising in popularity across the country, such as mail balloting and early voting.

In Michigan, Whitmer has vowed to veto similar proposals such as requiring absentee voters to provide a copy of their photo identification with the application or to include their driver’s license number, state ID number or the last four digits of their Social Security number. But Republicans plan to circulate petitions for an initiative that the GOP-controlled Legislature could enact into law without the governor’s signature.

Whitmer on Sunday also nixed a bill that would have required election challengers to attend training offered by the secretary of state and each clerk in the 90-day period before an election and boost training for election inspectors about challengers’ role. She expressed openness to the measure but said there must be funding.

The Legislature approved the measures last week, with Republicans contending they would bolster election integrity. While Senate Democrats were opposed, at least two-dozen House Democrats supported some bills.

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