Governor Rick Snyder has surprised Michigan Democrats and fellow Republicans by vetoing three bills within a Republican-backed elections reform package that would have placed new restrictions on voter registration drives, required voters reaffirm U.S. citizenship and show photo ID before receiving a ballot. While signing into law 11 less controversial bills of the package, the rejection of H.B. 5061, S.B. 754 and S.B. 803 has stunned members of his own party.
"The speaker believes strongly that only U.S. citizens should be voting in U.S. elections," Ari Adler, a spokesman for disappointed Michigan Speaker of the House Jase Bolger, told the Detroit Free Press. "Having a simple check box on the registration also may protect noncitizens from placing themselves at legal risk by voting when they are not yet eligible."
“All that my measure required was for registered voters to answer whether they are U.S. citizens before being allowed to vote. It is a common-sense solution that corrects the problem of noncitizens voting,” sponser of vetoed S.B. 803, state Sen. Darwin Booher told POLITICO. “Governor Snyder has missed an opportunity today to protect the integrity of our elections process.”
“I introduced this bill to reduce election fraud and make sure every vote is fairly counted,” H.B. 5061 State Rep. Brad Jacobsen also said. “Like the governor, I don’t want to create any confusion in the upcoming election.”
The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law says Snyder is the first Republican governor to veto any of the "180 restrictive voting measures" that have been introduced across the country since the beginning of 2011.
Snyder received praised for the move from long-serving Democratic Congressman John Conyers of Detroit.
“I was strongly opposed to the voting measures passed by the Republican-controlled State House, and I am pleased Gov. Snyder did the right thing and vetoed three of the measures,” Conyers said in a press release.
"There is no more fundamental right in our democracy than the right to vote," Conyers went on to say. "I hope that both parties can work together in Lansing, Washington and around the nation to facilitate this precious right."
Snyder explained his vetoes in a press release.
"While Snyder supports the concept of training individuals involved in voter registration, he said changes with the registration of third party voter registration organizations, and the timing and training of those entities, may cause confusion with ongoing voter registration efforts," the release reads for S.B. 754.
For H.B. 5061 and S.B. 803 aimed at preventing voter fraud through reaffirmation of U.S. citizenship and photo ID before receiving a ballot, the release reads "Snyder said he appreciates the issue of ensuring voters are eligible and U.S. citizens, however this legislation could create voter confusion among absentee voters."