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Opposition raises $2.5 million to fight Michigan GOP voting changes

Protect MI Vote sprang up to battle the Secure MI Vote initiative
Published: Oct. 26, 2021 at 10:50 AM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (AP) - A Michigan group has raised $2.5 million from a liberal nonprofit to fight a Republican-backed ballot drive that would toughen voter ID requirements.

Secure MI Vote is seeking to ban the unsolicited mailing of absentee ballot applications and make other election changes.

Protect MI Vote received the funding from Sixteen Thirty Fund, which is backed by anonymous donors. Protect MI Vote has spent nearly $1.6 million, mostly to pay a company working to defeat the initiative.

Secure MI Vote, which has begun circulating petitions, doesn’t have to submit its fundraising statement until Nov. 2.

The Secure MI Vote petitions aim to enact significant portions of a 39-bill election reform package introduced by Michigan Republicans earlier this year. The initiative includes the following new rules and restrictions:

  • Voters would have to sign a form listing their full name, address and date of birth to receive a ballot.
  • Voters would have to present a valid photo ID to receive a ballot.
  • Voters who don’t have a photo ID or don’t bring one to the polls would receive a provisional ballot.
  • Voters with no photo ID would have six days after the election to present proper ID to their municipal clerk for their vote to be counted.
  • All election officials would be banned from sending unsolicited absentee ballot request forms to voters.
  • Absentee voters would have to provide a valid driver’s license number, state ID card number or the last four digits of their Social Security number on their application to receive a ballot.
  • Only absentee voters named on the ballot application or a member of their household would be allowed to handle their ballot. No third parties would be allowed to collect and turn in absentee ballots.
  • All absentee ballots would have to be returned to municipal clerks by 8 p.m. on Election Day to be counted.
  • Only public tax dollars could be used to conduct elections, including voter registration events and hiring precinct inspectors.

The Michigan Bureau of Elections approved the Secure MI Vote petition drive in September, allowing the group to collect signatures. If enough signatures are collected, the Republican-led Legislature can enact the initiatives without a veto threat from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

The Republican-led Michigan Legislature has passed bills this fall that include many of the reforms included in the Secure MI Vote initiative, but Whitmer has vetoed them.

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