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Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has vetoed bills that would have made it a felony to apply for multiple absentee ballots or fill out an application for others without their consent.
Voter fraud is already a crime, the Democrat said, and the Republican-backed legislation would “muddy the waters” and “likely confuse voters” about what is considered criminal.
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In a letter to lawmakers Friday, the governor said it is impossible to get a second ballot without spoiling the first one and pointed out that voters might submit multiple ballot applications due to 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,” she wrote. “It is bad for voters and bad for our elections."
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. (Michigan Office of the Governor via AP)
The main bill was passed by the Republican-controlled House and Senate with bipartisan votes of 77-26 and 32-6, respectively, according to The Associated Press.
Whimter's veto drew heavy criticism from one of the bills' sponsors, GOP Rep. Ann Bollin, who said the legislation would have deterred fraud and enhanced voters’ confidence in elections amid “noise” about mail-in voting during the COVID-19 pandemic.
President Trump has added to the din, raising his own questions about the integrity of mail voting. Election experts, however, generally say all forms of voter fraud are rare.
According to Bolin, the legislation had "nothing" to do with voters who fill out multiple applications or ballots themselves.
“This legislation would have created a felony penalty for someone who fills out an application for another person in an attempt to commit fraud,” she said. “That’s not voter intimidation – it’s voter protection.”
According to polling data included in the Real Clear Politics average, voters in the swing state are leaning toward former Vice President Joe Biden. The Democrat is leading Trump by more than 7 percentage points.
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The president won Michigan in 2016 after Hillary Clinton decided to skip the Rust Belt state while campaigning.
Hoping to avoid the same fate, both Trump and Biden have visited Michigan multiple times during the campaign.
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