Michigan Lt. Gov. Garland Gilchrist (D) told a predominantly black church Sunday that Republicans are pushing election integrity reforms because they really do not want black people to vote.
Republicans in Michigan recently proposed the idea of a petition drive to force a legislature to vote on a series of election reforms designed to increase ballot security. If a sufficient number of signatures are obtained, a legislative vote would be held, and if the measure passes, it becomes law without the governor’s signature.
Gilchrist claimed that he asked by an attendee at Gethsemane Missionary Baptist Church in Westland what the state could do “to not become another Georgia,” an apparent reference to election reforms recently enacted there.
“It’s really disgusting,” he said, “and to me, what it says is 1. Republicans are scared of you voting. Period. Republicans are scared of people who look like us voting,” he told Sunday morning congregants.
“And that is happening at a level that it hasn’t happened in a really ever, actually,” Gilchrist declared, “in this past presidential election and they’re so scared they decided, you know, you don’t y’all to vote any more and so we want to make it more difficult for people who look like you to do so.”
Gilchrist told church goers if the legislatures passes election reform bills, “We will not let it come into law.”
He said he expects Republicans to play “games” to “try to get around that power that the people of Michigan gave us and we’re prepared to respond to that.”
The Michigan Constitution affords citizens “the power to propose laws” by initiative:
Any law proposed by initiative petition shall be either enacted or rejected by the legislature without change or amendment within 40 session days from the time such petition is received by the legislature. If any law proposed by such petition shall be enacted by the legislature it shall be subject to referendum, as hereinafter provided.
If the law so proposed is not enacted by the legislature within the 40 days, the state officer authorized by law shall submit such proposed law to the people for approval or rejection at the next general election. The legislature may reject any measure so proposed by initiative petition and propose a different measure upon the same subject by a yea and nay vote upon separate roll calls, and in such event both measures shall be submitted by such state officer to the electors for approval or rejection at the next general election.
The measure is not subject to a governor’s approval or veto.
The Michigan Republican Party recently said it may pursue a petition initiative to enact election integrity reforms.
“If that legislation is not passed by our 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,” party chairman Ron Weiser told a local Republican group.
“That plan includes taking that legislation and getting the signatures necessary for a legislative initiative so it can become law without Gretchen Whitmer’s signature.”