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GOP-led panel asks Michigan Secretary of State to submit new voting rules

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There’s a new fight over voting rules at the state Capitol. A Republican-led committee returned proposed voting regulations Wednesday to Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson’s office and asked her agency to re-submit new rules.

Republicans on the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules focused largely on absentee ballots and signature verification.

“This sort of stuff causes people to lose confidence in elections, and so I’m hopeful the secretary will take our recommendations today, look through these rules and make these changes so we can strengthen people’s confidence in elections,” said Republican Representative Matt Hall, a co-chair of the joint House and Senate committee.

Democrats opposed the Republican amendments, arguing they will make it more likely that absentee ballots will be rejected and voters will be disenfranchised.

“There are a number of them that seem geared towards making it harder for people to vote or making it geared towards making easier for votes to be rejected and, thereby, making it so that valid electors in the state of Michigan will be unable to cast their absentee ballot,” said Senator Jeff Irwin, a Democrat.

Democratic Representative Julie Brixie also complained the Republican amendments were not shared until the night before the meeting.

“My problem with this is it doesn’t appear to be in a collaborative spirit, so I’m not going to be able to support these changes,” said Brixie.

Benson has 30 days to respond to the request. A spokesperson for the Secretary of State says the Republicans’ proposed changes are being reviewed.

A Republican-backed ballot drive is in the field collecting signatures that would contravene the proposed rules.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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