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Whitmer signs bills to require notice on AI-generated political ads

Governor Gretchen Whitmer signs one of 23 bills to expand voting rights in Michigan. One of the new laws requires campaign ads to indicate if they make substantial use of AI technology.
Rick Pluta
/
Michigan Public Radio Network
Governor Gretchen Whitmer signs one of 23 bills to expand voting rights in Michigan. One of the new laws requires campaign ads to indicate if they make substantial use of AI technology.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed nearly two dozen bills Thursday to make major changes to Michigan election laws.

“We’ve taken Michigan from mediocre to a state that’s leading when it comes to protecting the right to vote, the franchise and protecting all the people who make it happen,” she said at a signing ceremony that took place at the Detroit branch of the NAACP.

Whitmer said the location was chosen because many restrictions on voting most dramatically affect communities of color, young people and those who can’t take time off from work to go vote. The new laws will allow nine days of early voting and automatic registration of young people and released prisoners, and they make it a crime to harass election workers.

One of the new laws will require campaigns to flag ads that make use of AI technology. The Democratic governor said it has become too easy to use digital methods to peddle falsehoods and misleading claims. She said helping people identify what is real and what is fake in campaign ads will help combat misinformation.

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, Michigan’s top election official, said the new law is important to get in front of the use of rapidly changing technology that is used to influence voters.

“But I anticipate this will not be the last action we take with regards to protecting voters from AI,” she said. “It’s just a significant first step that makes Michigan at the forefront, one of five states with these protections already in place.”

Benson said it was important to get the new laws in place before the 2024 election campaign season. Michigan is expected to be a battleground state in the presidential election and will also have an open U.S. Senate seat and two open congressional seats. Control of the closely divided Michigan House of Representatives will also be in play.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network.