The leaders of three-dozen major Michigan-based companies, including General Motors and Ford, on Tuesday issued a joint statement objecting to Republican-sponsored election security bills in Michigan and other states.
The GOP-led state Senate is expected to soon begin hearings on wide-ranging legislation that would require a photo ID to vote in person, prohibit the unsolicited statewide mass mailing of absentee ballot applications and restrict the hours in which people could drop off ballots in curbside boxes.
Voters applying for an absentee ballot would have to attach a copy of their ID. Governments would be banned from providing prepaid postage on ballot envelopes.
“Government must support equitable access to the ballot to ensure that all eligible voters can exercise their rights,” the statement said.
“Government must avoid actions that reduce participation in elections — particularly among historically disenfranchised communities, persons with disabilities, older adults, racial minorities and low-income voters.”
The statement was signed by GM’s Mary Barra, Ford’s Jim Farley and Mike Manley of Stellantis, formerly Fiat Chrysler.
It also was signed by executives from all four Detroit professional sports teams — including Christopher Ilitch, owner of the Tigers and Red Wings — and the leaders of auto suppliers, banks and other businesses.
They stopped short of weighing in on specific legislation but said election laws must be developed in bipartisan fashion.
They added that election administration should continuously be improved and strengthened “because public faith in the security and integrity of our elections is fundamental.”
In a separate statement, GM urged state lawmakers across the U.S. to protect “the right for all eligible voters to have their voices included in a fair, free and equitable manner.”
Republicans have said changes are needed to ensure election integrity following a surge in absentee voting and claims of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election.
More than 5.5 million people voted in Michigan’s presidential election — the most ever and the highest percentage of residents to cast a ballot in 60 years.
“This package’s move through the legislative process has only just begun and I look forward to seeking the input of my colleagues across the aisle and all who have engaged in this process,” Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey of Clarklake said in a statement.
“At all times we must use logic, not political sentiment or ‘wokeness,’ to build good public policy that will serve all Michiganders and safeguard our democracy. If having an ID is viewed as an obstacle to voting because there is a problem getting an ID, let’s solve that problem.”
Several bills would be vetoed by Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer if they reached her desk. But the state Republican Party has said it plans a maneuver that would enable the Legislature to pass them into law anyway if enough voter signatures were gathered for a ballot initiative.
Other measures in the 39-bill package would let 16- and 17-year-olds pre-register to vote and create an early voting day 10 days before Election Day. Votes submitted at polling places on that day would be counted then.
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