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Michigan voters reelect Gov. Whitmer, safeguard abortion rights in the state

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Big governor's races last night. The Democrat vying to be governor in the state of Pennsylvania, Josh Shapiro, has won. Tony Evers, a Democrat trying to - trying for reelection in the state of Wisconsin, also came out on top. Brian Kemp won easily in Georgia, defeating gubernatorial candidate Democrat Stacey Abrams. And Arizona Republican Kari Lake is vying for the job over the Democrat, Katie Hobbs. That race is close. It is not over yet. And in the state of Michigan, the sitting governor, Gretchen Whitmer, has won reelection. I'm joined now by Rick Pluta from Michigan Public Radio. Thanks so much for being here.

RICK PLUTA, BYLINE: Oh, it's a pleasure.

MARTIN: So Gretchen Whitmer defeats a political newcomer, Tudor Dixon. Tell us about that race. How close was it in the end?

PLUTA: You know, it was close, but in the end, not that close, although Dixon has yet to concede. But, you know, Gretchen Whitmer - really, Democrats in Michigan wound up running the table. Not only did Gretchen Whitmer win reelection, but for the first time in 40 years, the legislature will be controlled by Democrats, the first time that triumvirate will be in place. And it even made a difference in some critical congressional races.

MARTIN: I want to ask about this amendment on abortion that Michigan voters approved of yesterday. What does it do?

PLUTA: It puts into the state constitution reproductive rights. And it's fairly sweeping in its protections that a lot of it will probably be determined in court cases. But the basic right to an abortion is protected from - well, I should say, reproductive rights, from birth control all the way to, you know, having the right to an abortion through viability.

MARTIN: I think we've got a clip here.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

GRETCHEN WHITMER: We will make Michigan a leader, a place where every person is respected and protected under the law, a place where women make their own decisions.

(CHEERING)

MARTIN: Governor Whitmer speaking there. So actual voting was on the ballot, too, right, Rick? Voters supported big changes to the electoral system. Explain that.

PLUTA: It was a voting rights amendment that dealt a lot with absentee ballots, the ability to get them and to sign up to be permanently on an absentee ballot list, that there has to be drop boxes to be able to vote absentee. And same-day registration is now guaranteed, although it is already in state law.

MARTIN: What's your big takeaway from the vote in Michigan yesterday? I mean, does it - does the state still operate as a swing state?

PLUTA: I mean, it'll take a couple of elections to determine whether or not Michigan is still a swing state or has become a blue state. I would say it's still a swing state, but it's a lot bluer than it was before.

MARTIN: Rick Pluta with Michigan Public Radio Network, thanks for your time.

PLUTA: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Steve Inskeep
Steve Inskeep is a host of NPR's Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.