LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer vetoed bills that would have made it a felony to knowingly try to apply for multiple absentee ballots or to fill out an application for others without their consent.
The Democratic governor said voter fraud — such as trying to vote more than once — already is a crime, and the Republican-sponsored legislation would “muddy the waters” and “likely confuse voters” about what conduct is criminal. In a letter to lawmakers Friday, she said it is impossible to get a second ballot without spoiling the first one and cautioned that people might submit multiple applications because of memory or error.
“Any suggestion that the filing of a second absentee ballot application is criminal behavior creates needless confusion and fearmongering around the absentee voting process,” Whitmer wrote. “It is bad for voters and bad for our elections.”
The main bill was passed by the GOP-controlled House and Senate on bipartisan 77-26 and 32-6 votes, with some Democrats opposed.
The vetoes drew criticism from one of the sponsors, Republican Rep. Ann Bollin of Brighton Township, who said the bills would have deterred fraud and enhanced voters’ confidence in elections amid “noise” about mail-in voting during the coronavirus pandemic. President Donald Trump has raised questions about the integrity of mail voting, but election experts widely say that all forms of voter fraud are extremely rare.
Bollin said the legislation had “nothing” to do with voters who fill out multiple applications or ballots themselves, agreeing there are protections to prevent the issuance of multiple ballots to one person.
“This legislation would have created a felony penalty for someone who fills out an application for another person in an attempt to commit fraud,” Bollin said. “That’s not voter intimidation – it’s voter protection.”