Michigan Governor Rick Snyder on Tuesday vetoed a measure to broaden Michigan's photo identification law for voting, the first Republican governor to veto such a plan during a national wave of ID laws enacted by states in the last two years.
Michigan has an existing voter ID law that is somewhat flexible, permitting a voter to sign an affidavit and vote a regular ballot if they do not have photographic identification with them.
Snyder vetoed a proposal from the Republican-led legislature requiring a photo ID for absentee voting.
Snyder also vetoed proposals that would require voters to affirm their U.S. citizenship before receiving ballots and to require voter registration groups to undergo training by the secretary of state or local clerks.
Over the past decade, Republicans have made a push to pass voter identification laws, arguing that closer attention needed to be paid to illegal voting. Democrats accuse the Republicans of trying to bar or scare away from the polls poor voters who may not posses such identification and who are more likely to vote for Democratic candidates.
There have been proposals to enact or strengthen voter ID laws in more than 30 states in each of the last two years, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Snyder is the first Republican governor to veto a voter ID measure in the past two years. Five Democratic governors -Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire and North Carolina - have vetoed various voter ID proposals.
Minnesota Republicans put a proposed constitutional amendment requiring photo ID on the ballot for November.
Snyder said while he supported the concept that only eligible voters be allowed to cast ballots, the legislation that he vetoed could have created confusion among absentee voters.
Republican House Speaker Jase Bolger was "deeply disappointed in the vetoes of other very reasonable reforms designed to protect the integrity of one of the most sacred rights in the United States," spokesman Ari Adler said in a statement.
Adler said it was not unreasonable to expect people handling voter registrations to have basic training and House Republicans would work with Snyder and the secretary of state going forward.
"Eligible voters need to know that their votes count and will not be canceled out by others who are ineligible to vote," Adler said.
Since 2001, nearly 1,000 voter identification bills have been introduced in 46 states, with the first passed in 2003 in Alabama, Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota.
But the pace of voter ID laws quickened after Republicans swept to power in a number of states, including Michigan, in the 2010 midterm elections.
Snyder signed several other election bills into law. They covered documentation of campaign funding, court monitoring of voter status and prohibitions on using campaign funds to pay legal expenses not related to running for office.
(Reporting by David Bailey, Andrew Stern and Karen Pierog; Editing by Greg McCune and Cynthia Osterman)