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GOP Michigan gov. vetoes voter ID laws

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder (C) talks with Michigan college and university administrators at a press conference May 12, 2011 in Lansing, Michigan. Steve Fecht for the W.K. Kellogg Foundation via Getty Images

(CBS News) Breaking from Republicans in his state and across the country, Michigan's Republican Gov. Rick Snyder on Tuesday vetoed three bills intended to curb voter fraud but that opponents cast as forms of voter suppression.

One of the bills vetoed would have required training for people involved in voter registration efforts. In a release, the governor's office said, "While Snyder supports the concept of training individuals involved in voter registration, [these changes]... may cause confusion with ongoing voter registration efforts."

Another one of the vetoed bills would have required a voter to prove his U.S. citizenship before receiving a ballot, while the third would have required a voter to show a photo ID when picking up an absentee ballot form. The governor's office said in its statement, "this legislation could create voter confusion among absentee voters."

Michigan Public Radio reports that reactions from state lawmakers fell down predictable partisan lines. Michigan's House Democratic Leader Rick Hammell called the vetoes "brave," while Republican House Speaker Jase Bolger was quick to express his disappointment.

A spokesman for Bolger said in a statement, according to the Detroit Free Press, that the Republican leader considered the bills "very reasonable reforms designed to protect the integrity of one of the most sacred rights in the United States."

The nonpartisan group Project Vote, meanwhile, applauded the Republican governor for "doing right by Michigan voters and taking an important stand against the current onslaught of voter suppression laws."

According to the National Conference of State Legislators, 17 states -- including Michigan -- have passed laws requiring a photo identification at the polls. Another 16 states have passed laws requiring non-photo identification.

Republicans have led the efforts in recent years to pass voter ID laws, which supporters say are needed to prevent voter fraud, even though there's little evidence of such fraud taking place. After Pennsylvania adopted a strict voter photo ID requirement, CBS News asked state officials how many people had been convicted of voter impersonation or voter fraud in the past five years. The answer was zero, CBS News reported.

President Obama's re-election campaign and Democrats in Congress have been pushing back against the laws.

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