Gov. Gretchen Whitmer blocked county canvassers from investigating voter fraud on Monday as she signed numerous bills into law.

Senate Bill 603, one of 15 bills Whitmer signed on Monday, eliminates the ability of county canvassers to investigate fraud during recounts, and limits the basis for requesting a recount to errors that could sway the outcome.

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The legislation also increases fees for recounts based on the margin of victory, and allows for recounts in precincts where ballot counts are out of balance.

A Whitmer press release contends the legislation will “uphold the democratic process, ensuring that the security of every vote is protected and that losing parties cannot stop the winners from taking office.”

State Sen. Stephanie Chang, D-Detroit, alleges the new laws “achieve critical goals of protecting the security of every vote, modernizing our recount process, and uplifting the voices of Michigan voters.”

Republicans in the Michigan Legislature, particularly those with election experience, strongly condemned the legislation, on social media, in floor speeches, and elsewhere.

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Rep. Rachel Smit, a Republican former elections clerk from Martin, said on the House floor SB 603 removes necessary checks and balances she believes are critical for ensuring faith in election outcomes.

“It’s not a crime – or at least it shouldn’t be – to practice skepticism,” she said. “This bill will eliminate what little trust citizens have left in our election systems.”

Those comments echoed Senate Legislative Analyst Abby Schneider, who testified that the legislation “would hinder the ability of candidates aggrieved by fraud to request recounts, reducing trust in the election process.

“The recount process is designed to ensure the accuracy and fairness of elections. This includes granting bipartisan boards of county canvassers the ability to investigate claims of fraud while conducting recounts. By eliminating this ability, and reference to fraud altogether, the bills would prevent bad actors from being held accountable and erode confidence in the State’s election process,” Schneider testified.

SB 603 is among several election-related bills promoted by Democrats in Lansing that Republicans said in June are systematically dismantling the ability of election officials to administer fair and accurate elections, Michigan Advance reports.

“Whether you’re an independent, Democrat or Republican, this doesn’t help you,” said state Sen. James Runestad, R-White Lake. “This kind of stuff is crafted to get an outcome for the people who are not transparent.”

Former Michigan Secretary of State turned state Sen. Ruth Johnson, R-Holly, said in June Democrats are “stripping away layer after layer of integrity in our elections, both by laws that are being passed through and by some of the past ballot initiatives that were very deceptive, and a lot of money was spent to make people think some of it was different than it really was.”

She continued: “You can go toe-to-toe on anything you want to fight with, but you shouldn’t deceive people. You are just using them when you do that. People need to have a say. This is America.”

Smit noted in June that the new law will expedite election victories for Democrats.

“I’m convinced all of this is being done because the Democrats have a hard time winning otherwise,” Smit said. “If we’ve had the most safe and secure election that we’ve heard time and time again, the last couple of election cycles that we’ve had, then why are we doing all (this), the need to have these extreme laws enacted that significantly weaken the security and integrity of our elections?”

The legislation in Lansing comes as Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson faces numerous lawsuits over her refusal to purge the state’s bloated voter rolls, unconstitutional guidance to local election officials, and implementation of voter approved election reforms.

Michigan, a key battleground state in the 2024 presidential election, currently has 105% more registered voters than its legal voting age population. The bloated rolls, ripe for fraud, include tens of thousands of deceased Michigan residents, including some who perished more than 3 decades ago, according to an investigation by the Public Interest Legal Foundation, one of the entities suing Benson for inaction.

Benson’s refusal to remove voters who are no longer qualified to vote means hundreds of thousands will receive unsolicited absentee ballot applications in the mail, and Whitmer’s signature on SB 603 on Monday leaves county canvassers powerless to investigate any potential fraud that creates.