While sweeping Republican-sponsored bills in Lansing to restrict voting rights provoke public outcry, far less attention is paid to a rarely used method plotted by the GOP to get the laws enacted.
Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer vows to veto the legislation if passed, but the relatively obscure process eyed by the GOP would employ an obscure type of petition drive to pass the bills and cut out the governor’s role. The effort would need 340,047 valid signatures to pave the way for the bills and circumvent the usual legislative process.
The result of this scenario would be astonishing. Whitmer received nearly 2.3 million votes in 2018 as a clear majority chose her for governor. But 340,000 signatures can take away one of the governor’s most authoritative powers, her power to veto legislation.
This provision in the 1963 Michigan Constitution has been used successfully only nine times. And Michigan is one of just nine states that lets voters demand the Legislature take up certain bills without a potential veto.
Yet the Michigan Republican Party’s controversial new chairman, Ron Weiser, sees this path as the key to success.
In a video that emerged last month, Weiser told the North Oakland Republican Club that the state party planned to subsidize a petition drive by relying on county GOP committees using state party money. Though signature-gathering has not started, the implication is that the party would strike quickly if Whitmer vetoes the proposed voting restrictions.
“If that legislation is not passed by our [GOP-controlled] Legislature, which I am sure it will be, but if it’s not signed by the governor, then we have other plans to make sure that it becomes law before 2022,” Weiser said in the video.
Continue reading here.
This is an excerpt of a column I wrote for Deadline Detroit.