Gov. Snyder and the election bills

Jul 5, 2012

Every Thursday we look at Michigan politics with Ken Sikkema, former Senate majority leader and senior policy fellow at Public Sector Consultants, and Susan Demas, political analyst for Michigan Information and Research Service.

Republicans in the Legislature got a bit of a surprise this week when Gov. Snyder vetoed three of the 14 new bills related to voting. What would those three vetoed bills have done?

Demas tells Michigan Radio's Jennifer White, "The bills that he vetoed would have required people to have confirmed their U.S. citizenship before they were allowed to vote. And the other bill would have really clamped down on those third-party registration drives, you know, by groups like the League of Women Voters. There would have been new requirements to conduct those that the Secretary of State really wanted.

It seems that Republicans were caught a bit off guard by the governor’s vetoes. Does this decision tell us something about a shift in the relationship between the governor and the Republican-led legislature?

Sikkema tells us, “I think particularly from a House Republican standpoint, there’s going to be some raised eyebrows.  Their attitude is going to be ‘Look, Governor, we carried a lot of your water here the first year.  Some of the votes we cast are probably going to cost us some seats in November, so we need you to respond to some of our priorities as well.’”

The governor did sign 11 other election bills. As Demas said, "Those were much less controversial and most of those passed with pretty good bipartisan support. Those bills were more to clean up elections process. So if you take the package as a whole, it was only three bills (that were vetoed) and it was the three most controversial ones. And clearly Snyder got legal advice that it was not advisable to go along with those measures.”

Is this veto Gov. Snyder’s way of trying to position himself as more moderate?

Sikkema thinks it's possible. "One of the dynamics in Lansing with the governor and the Republican Legislature is that the Republicans in the Legislature are more conservative than he is, there’s no question about that.  I think he’s been very successful in signing legislation that he might have had reservations about but he recognized they represented priorities of Republicans in the legislature. This might be a way for him to kind of send a message that, 'Yeah, I’m still governor.”