LANSING, Mich., Sept. 21, 2021 — Today, the House Elections and Ethics Committee held a hearing on two Republican voter suppression bills, House Bills 5268 and 5288. These bills would prevent local clerks from preemptively sending absentee ballots and prevent a person from submitting an online application request or using an electronic signature, requiring a person to send in a physical version of the request. Along with the 39-bill voter suppression package Senate Republicans introduced in May, they are part of a larger nationwide drive by Republicans to make it harder to vote.
“If Republicans continue to pander to those who believe our election was a lie, we’ll never move forward,” said state Rep. Matt Koleszar (D-Plymouth), Democratic vice chair of the Elections and Ethics Committee. “Electronic signatures are nothing new and are widely used, trusted and accepted. Sending ballot applications to voters is simply common-sense policy that lowers barriers to voting. We know the U.S already has one of the lowest voter turnout rates among developed countries: why make it any lower? Introducing these bills without any evidence of voter fraud to back their claims reeks of partisan ulterior motives. I urge Republicans to get back to work and help us pass a budget that helps all Michiganders.”
Republican voter suppression bills have recently come under fire for their disproportionate impact on communities of color. Last week in North Carolina, a panel of judges blocked their 2018 voter ID law, claiming it discriminates against Black people. These bills will likely face similar challenges should this new wave of bills succeed.