LANSING – Michigan House Democrats early Friday morning denounced a last-minute Republican effort to squash voter rights by making recalls of elected officials virtually impossible and limiting the ability of citizens to cast a ballot. The measures were introduced to the Senate late Friday evening and passed by the House around 2:15 a.m. in the closing minutes of the 2012 legislative session.
“Republicans should be ashamed of what they are doing to democracy in our state,” Rep. Jon M. Switalski (Warren) said. “Time and time again this week, Republicans in the Legislature have ignored the will of the people and passed bills that citizens do not want. Now, cowardly fearing retribution, Republicans have passed a law that seeks to make them immune to consequences for what they have done.”
The desperate attempt to insulate themselves from the judgment of the people came in the same week Republicans passed new laws that weaken collective bargaining rights, reinstate an emergency financial manager law voters overturned last month and directed taxpayer dollars out of schools and into the building of a private stadium. Later in the overnight session, the House passed Republican-backed restrictions on abortion clinics that will restrict women’s access to health care and put abortion-providing facilities out of business.
“Accountability is a cornerstone of democracy,” said Rep. Barb Byrum (Onondaga). “If politicians are freed from the possibility of recall, then they can — and they will — rule with a complete disregard of what the people want. What Republicans are doing betrays democracy and is un-American.”
Another new law requires voters to prove their citizenship before receiving a ballot and have a photo ID to pick up an absentee ballot. House Democrats vow to fight against the onslaught against democratic principles through any and all legal means.
“Despite what House Republicans believe, the people of Michigan still want to live in a democracy,” Byrum said. “If Republicans are moving to dismantle democracy in Michigan, then the people of the state are looking to us to restore it. We will not rest until transparency, accountability and democracy are the law of the land once again.”