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Protecting the Rights of Voters


Gretchen Whitmer
July 9, 2012

Friends –

Over the past 18 months, Governor Rick Snyder and the Republican legislature have passed more than 600 bills into law, one of the most aggressive legislative periods that Lansing has seen in years. It often seemed over that time that no matter how controversial a proposal has been, whether it was taking billions of dollars from our public schools, raising taxes on seniors or throwing people off of the unemployment line, the GOP has put their stamp of approval on every single one of them with barely a whisper of disagreement.

Last week, however, that unified front suffered one of its very first public blows when Governor Snyder vetoed the most controversial portions of a package of anti-voter legislation being pushed by Republican Secretary of State Ruth Johnson and Speaker of the House Jase Bolger.

As groups like ALEC push these types of policies across the country with the sole purpose of disenfranchising voters, we see more and more clearly the blatant disregard they have for protecting the right of every single American to vote. The Governor's action in vetoing that package sent a message that Michigan would not have to be the next state in which thousands of voters have to go through the legal system to simply exercise their constitutional right to have their voice heard in the upcoming elections.

While the national media took note of the Governor’s veto and applauded him as the first Republican governor willing to stop these types of misguided policies from being implemented, those pushing the legislation in Michigan didn’t hide their displeasure with the Governor’s action.

Secretary of State Johnson blasted the Governor’s veto, stating she was “deeply disappointed” that the Governor would oppose the bills she had worked so hard to get passed, while a spokesperson for Speaker Bolger expressed apparent surprise that the Governor, “bought into the rhetoric being spewed by liberal special interest groups.”

Of course, what both Johnson and Bolger have yet to acknowledge is that neither of them could find a single instance of the type of election fraud taking place in Michigan that they claimed these bills were solving. Instead, we see them angry to be left holding the bag as even Governor Snyder said these bills went too far and would make it extremely difficult for thousands of eligible voters to cast their ballots in the upcoming elections.

I welcome the Governor's action and hope that it is an indicator that he's willing to put aside the partisan politics that have dominated our state's capitol over the past 18 months and focus on the issues that really matter to the people of Michigan. It remains to be seen whether the Governor and the GOP legislators can, or even will try to look past this very public disagreement, but as of today, their relationship is looking far rockier than it was only a week ago.

Thad McCotter’s Lesson in Selfishness

There were a lot of questions being asked last week as now Ex-Congressman Thad McCotter finished his professional journey of self-destruction: How could he fail to get on the ballot for re-election? Who was behind the fraudulent signatures he turned in? Who will replace him in office now that he has resigned?

Unfortunately, one very important question was seemingly overlooked: How could he be that selfish?

Congressman McCotter was elected by the people of his district to serve his two-year term in office. That wasn’t conditional on whether he made in on the ballot again this year to run for re-election. It was a trust his constituents gave to him and in return, he simply chose to break that trust and resign rather than finish the job he was elected to do.

What kind of a lesson does that teach our children about leadership? When the going gets tough? Quit. When the people of Michigan desperately need a strong voice in Congress? Walk away.

I certainly did not always agree with Congressman McCotter’s policies or votes, but I would have expected him to at least fulfill his promise to Michigan and finish his term in office. To walk out on us in the manner he did is the ultimate act of selfishness from an elected official.

Looking Ahead

Can the Governor and Republican legislators work out on agreement on moving a state Health Exchange forward to implement the Affordable Care Act in Michigan given their recent hostilities
Now that Governor Snyder has come out against the punitive GOP voter legislation, will he also avoid the pressure to hold a special election to replace Congressman McCotter that would be curiously timed to benefit Nancy Cassis, the handpicked candidate of L. Brooks Patterson who was exposed for having manipulated the Governor’s office into signing the Oakland County Commission redistricting bills last year?

Sincerely,

Gretchen Whitmer
Michigan Senate Democratic Leader