GOP chair funds Michigan ballot drive to toughen voting law
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The primary funder of a ballot drive to toughen Michigan’s voter identification law and restrict mass mailings of unsolicited absentee ballot applications is Ron Weiser, chairman of the state Republican Party.
Secure MI Vote filed a statement Tuesday showing that Weiser donated $80,000 out of roughly $85,000 the committee raised between Sept. 30 and Oct. 26.
The group needs about 340,000 valid voter signatures for the initiative, which the GOP-controlled Legislature would likely pass into law rather than let it go to the November 2022 ballot. Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer vetoed similar legislation last week but could not veto the new measure.
Ballot committees typically need millions of dollars to pay people to circulate petitions, so Secure MI Vote’s fundraising is expected to continue.
An opposition group has raised $2.5 million from a liberal nonprofit and is encouraging voters to decline to sign the petition.
The proposal would require that absentee voters provide a copy of their photo ID with the application or include their driver’s license number, state ID number or the last four digits of their Social Security number. The ability for in-person voters without an ID to sign an affidavit and cast a regular ballot would be eliminated.
Instead, they — and absentee voters who fail to attach ID information to their application — could cast a provisional ballot and have to verify their identity within six days of the election for it to count.
The initiated legislation also would require the last four digits of a Social Security number to register to vote. The secretary of state and local clerks would be prohibited from sending absentee applications to people who did not request them, a strategy they used to promote mail voting during the coronavirus pandemic.
Supporters say the initiative proposes commonsense changes to make elections more secure, though election fraud is extremely rare. Opponents say it would erect unnecessary barriers to voting and disenfranchise some people.
The measure also would specify minimum times that clerks must accept absentee ballots for in-person or drop-box delivery, prohibit the use of private donations to administer elections and create a fund to waive ID fees for low-income people.
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