Republicans Vote Unanimously to Mandate ID to Vote in Michigan in Bid to Tighten Rules

Michigan Senate Republicans unanimously passed three bills Wednesday that would require a photo ID for all in-person voters in the state, along with extra identification measures for mail-in voters. The united GOP effort outweighed unified rejection from the Democrats, adding Michigan to a number of states pursuing tighter voting regulations.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, plans to veto the bills if they make it to her desk, the Associated Press reported. However, the Michigan Legislature has the ability to finalize citizen-introduced bills such as the ones voted on Wednesday.

Currently, citizens of Michigan who don't have photo identification when voting in person can still cast a ballot if they sign an affidavit at their polling location, a provision used by more than 11,000 voters in the November 2020 election. The proposed legislation would prohibit this process. Instead, voters without identification would be able to cast a provisional ballot and confirm their identity within six days.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below:

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer speaks to the press about the rising numbers of coronavirus cases in Michigan and vaccine availability before receiving a dose on April 6 in Detroit. Matthew Hatcher/Getty Images

Voters currently seeking an absentee ballot by mail or at an election clerk's office must sign the application, and the signature is matched to the voter file. The legislation would require applicants to include a copy of their photo ID, their driver's license number or the last four digits of their Social Security number. Those who do not would get a provisional ballot.

Republicans said the bills would ensure election integrity and security because the system allegedly became more vulnerable following a 2018 voter-approved constitutional amendment that expanded absentee voting and allowed same-day registration. Nearly 3.3 million people—a record—voted absentee in November amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Democrats said the legislation, which is opposed by clerks and voting-rights advocates, would impose a "poll tax" and suppress the vote by making it harder to participate. They also raised concerns about identity theft. The bills seek to address nonexistent problems amid former President Donald Trump's false claims that he won, they said.

"Trump lied. You believe the big lie. Now you want to change the rules because you realize the demographics of America are changing and your base it out of control," said Sen. Sylvia Santana, a Detroit Democrat who is Black. "Now you want to change the rules and add rules so that people who look like me get frustrated and decide not to vote."

GOP senators argued that the state's photo ID law is insufficient due to the 2018 voting changes and noted that ID is required for many activities.

"These bills would help ensure the security and fairness of our elections," said Sen. Ruth Johnson, a Holly Republican. "Requiring voters to verify their identity with ID is the best way to protect the one-person, one-vote standard."

Trump's allegations have been resoundingly rejected by state officials who certified the results, judges who dismissed multiple lawsuits filed by Trump and his allies, and a coalition of federal and state officials who called the 2020 election the "most secure" in U.S. history.

For the People Act
Senator Raphael Warnock speaks at a June 9 rally in front of the Supreme Court to call on the Senate to pass the For the People Act. The bill, which passed the House in March, would provide minimum standards for early voting, voting by mail and automatic voter registration. Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images