Republicans complain about Michigan receiving federal help to register voters - TAI News
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A vote sign and American flag are shown outside a Michigan primary election location in Dearborn, Mich., Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024.AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

House Republicans are taking issue with recent efforts by President Joe Biden’s administration to assist Michigan’s voter registration process.

On March 19, the U.S. Small Business Administration announced a memorandum of understanding between the department and the Michigan Department of State. According to a release from the SBA, the two entities intend to “promote civic engagement and voter registration in Michigan.”

“Through this memorandum of understanding, the SBA will help connect Michiganders to vital voter registration information from the State of Michigan so that more small business owners can exercise their right to vote. Small businesses are busy working on and in their businesses, and by meeting them where they are – on our website and at our small business outreach events – we can help facilitate voter registration and civic engagement so their voices are heard,” SBA Administrator Isabel Casillas Guzman said in the statement.

A few weeks later, on April 4, the Republican majority on the House Committee on Small Business sent a letter to the SBA informing the agency that it was investigating its voter registration efforts.

“The Committee is concerned about the lack of constitutional and statutory authority allowing the SBA to engage in activities beyond its mission, including voting access and registration activities,” they wrote. “It appears that this is an attempt to improperly involve the federal government in America’s electoral processes. Elections are for the American people to engage in, not for federal agencies to interfere with during an election year.”

The committee also expressed concern that an effort is being made to increase voter registration in Michigan because it is a “key battleground state for [Biden’s] re-election efforts.  The SBA involving itself in the election process of a battleground state during an election year is an insult to struggling small business owners across America.”

The letter is signed by Rep. Roger Williams (TX), the chairman of the committee, and Reps. Blaine Luetkemeyer (MO), Pete Stauber (MN) and Dan Meuser (PA).

In the original announcement of the memorandum, the Small Business Administration does not mention any political parties or candidates. The Michigan Department of State will create a unique internet address so the Small Business Administration can direct online visitors to register to vote. The announcement also said the SBA’s Michigan field office may also allow state officials to conduct in-person voter registration at events used for outreach to small businesses.

The agreement is meant to implement the directive given to the Small Business Administration in an executive order Biden signed in March 2021 instructing federal agencies to promote access to voting.

In that order, Biden noted: “Free and fair elections that reflect the will of the American people must be protected and defended. But many Americans, especially people of color, confront significant obstacles to exercising that fundamental right.”

The administration’s efforts to protect voting and encourage voter registration follow ongoing attacks on the electoral process by Republicans and former President Donald Trump.

Biden defeated Trump in Michigan in the 2020 presidential election by over 154,000 votes. In November 2020, before the vote was certified, Trump personally pressured election officials to oppose certification. That same month, Trump’s lead attorney, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, called for ballots cast in Wayne County to be thrown out. Doing so would have led to a Trump victory. Detroit, the largest city in Michigan, where a majority of the voters are Black, is in Wayne County.

Both Trump and Giuliani have been indicted in Fulton County, Georgia, over similar attempts to subvert the results of the 2020 election.

A group of 11 Michigan state legislators, all Republicans, filed a lawsuit in October 2023 attempting to overturn state voting rights amendments that were approved by voters in 2018 and 2022. On April 10, a federal district judge threw out the suit on the grounds that the lawmakers did not have legal standing to challenge the amendments.

“This lawsuit was absurd and baseless from its inception, and I am glad the Court saw the plaintiffs[‘] obvious lack of standing,” Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said in a release.

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