MAKING IT EASIER TO VOTE
All Michigan voters deserve a fair and secure system that removes barriers to voting, giving everyone the ability and opportunity to exercise their right to vote. We will make it easier to vote and harder to cheat, ensuring a more secure process that gives every voter confidence in the results by:
• Allowing pre-registration of 16-year-olds (SB 274). Senate Bill 274 will allow citizens between 16 and 17 ½ years old who are being issued a driver’s license or state ID to be preregistered to vote. Pre-registered individuals would not be placed in the Qualified Voter File (QVF) until they reach the age of 18, and the Secretary of State must check if the individual is deceased or if they’ve moved before adding them to the QVF.
• Providing free state IDs (SB 304). Lack of a photo ID shouldn’t be an impediment to voting. If a qualified voter doesn’t have the financial means to obtain a photo ID, Senate Bill 304 requires notice be provided to the voter that one could be provided free of charge with the approval from the Secretary of State. If a voter without photo ID uses a provisional ballot, they must verify their identity with the local clerk within six days of the election for their vote to be tabulated.
• Ensuring members of the military can vote electronically (SB 311). There shouldn’t be any barriers to voting for members of our military who protect our freedoms. Senate Bill 311 allows for a member of the U.S. military to vote electronically using a Common Access Card if they have reason to believe they will not be in their voting jurisdiction on Election Day.
• Providing for an early Election Day (SB 300–1). To encourage greater participation in our elections, voting would be available the second Saturday before Election Day. Votes would be tallied that day, and anyone found to be tampering with or disclosing results in advance would face up to five years in prison.
• Providing the full text of all proposals on the ballot (SB 307). Voters deserve to know exactly what a ballot proposal does when casting their vote. Senate Bill 307 requires the full text of any ballot initiative or constitutional amendment be provided with all ballots, whether in-person or absentee.
PROTECTING YOUR VOTE
Michigan residents must have complete confidence in the fairness and security of the elections that determine their representatives. Voters deserve to know that their votes are protected and secured, and that their vote will be counted. Our bills will accomplish this by:
• Affirming one registration (SB 302). As Michiganders move, it’s important to make sure their voter registration is updated so they can vote in their local community. Senate Bill 302 requires individuals to affirm on their voter registration form that they are not registered to vote in any other jurisdiction to serve as a reminder to keep their registration updated.
• Strengthening photo ID requirements (SB 303). Making sure the individual voting is who they say they are protects everyone’s vote. If a voter can’t present photo ID, they will be issued a provisional ballot.
• Prohibiting the name or likeness of the Secretary of State or local clerks on election materials (SB 305). Elections should be about the candidates on the ballot and the citizens exercising their right to vote, not who is administering them. Senate Bill 305 prohibits the Secretary of State and clerks from using their name or likeness on any communication or materials promoting election-related activities.
• Removing deceased voters from files (SB 277). Deceased individuals shouldn’t be sent absentee ballot applications. Senate Bill 277 cleans up our voter rolls and avoids the opportunity for fraud. Clear guidelines will be established for county clerks to access the Qualified Voter File (QVF) to flag deceased voters, and updated lists of deceased individuals will be provided to local clerks every two weeks. In the 45 days prior to an election, this process will take place weekly.
• Requiring a 100-day canvass (SB 280). Senate Bill 280 requires the Board of State Canvassers to complete the canvass of an initiative petition within 100 days of it being submitted to the Secretary of State.
• Updating QVF timelines and requirements (SB 281). The last election demonstrated how woefully inaccurate the voter rolls are and the need for more regular updating. Senate Bill 281 requires the Secretary of State to maintain and update the Qualified Voter File according to Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC) guidelines.
• Protecting the QVF (SB 282). The ability to change information on the voter rolls should be reserved only for qualified elected officials in order to prevent tampering from outside groups. Senate Bill 282 would prohibit third-party access to the Qualified Voter File (QVF), limiting access to the Secretary of State, a designated voter registration agency, or a county, city or township clerk.
• Prohibiting third-party money for election activities (SB 284). No interest group, regardless of political affiliation, should be able to influence the outcome of elections by investing in the operations of certain areas of the state. Senate Bill 284 would prohibit any unit of government from accepting money from third-party entities for election-related activities or equipment.
A SMOOTHER ELECTION DAY
Ensuring Election Day activities run as smoothly and efficiently as possible is crucial to the democratic process and the peaceful transition of power. When individuals carrying out Election Day duties are not properly trained, it causes chaos, confusion and the rapid spread of misinformation. Our bills will improve Election Day by:
• Requiring better training and more accountability for poll challengers (SB 292–3). As we learned in 2020, there is a significant lack of training and understanding of the rights and duties of poll challengers. Senate Bills 292-3 require the Secretary of State to establish comprehensive training for challengers that must be administered by the political parties no less than three days before the election.
• Eliminating third-party poll challengers (SB 290–1). Those responsible for training poll challengers must be held accountable. Senate Bills 290-1 would require that only a political party or a campaign can provide election challengers at polling locations, and that challengers must clearly display credentials with identifying information. Both the training entity and the challenger must sign an affidavit affirming the training occurred.
• Clarifying the role of poll challengers and watchers (SB 309). Senate Bill 309 specifies that poll challengers have the right to sit behind the processing table, observe the election process at a reasonable distance and challenge a voter if they have good reason to believe they are not registered.
• Ensuring equal representation among election inspectors (SB 294). Some polling places in our state have been unable to provide equal party representation when appointing election inspectors. Senate Bill 294 requires the ratio of partisan election inspectors to be as close to 1:1 as possible and that it not exceed 2:1. If a 1:1 ratio isn’t possible, the local clerk must submit a report to the Secretary of State detailing what efforts they took to try to provide equal representation.
• Reducing out-of-balance poll books (SB 295). Out-of-balance poll books raise questions about the accuracy of results. Senate Bill 295 requires clerks to train precinct workers in the best practices of maintaining a balanced precinct, including checking the tabulators and voter counts every hour.
• Ensuring clerks have the resources they need (SB 286). Senate Bill 286 ensures that local clerks and election workers are provided the necessary time to collect absentee ballots, but not be overly burdened with doing so on Election Day. The bill allows for any absentee ballot to still be submitted after 5 p.m. on Monday at a clerk’s office, or be received via mail on Election Day, ensuring that all ballots are in possession of the local clerk at the close of the polls on Election Day.
The elections process – from start to finish – must be fully transparent to the public. Voters have every right to monitor the process and have confidence in our election system. Our bills will provide greater transparency by:
• Allowing for video record of the tabulation and audit process (SB 275–6). Vote tabulation and audits of elections should be a public process to provide confidence in election outcomes. Senate Bills 275-6 allow for clerks to provide live video of the tabulation of votes and for the video or audio recording of tabulation and audit proceedings by individuals from each political party. No recording of voters or any personal identifying information would be allowed.
• Requiring legislative approval of federal money on elections (SB 289). The public deserves to know how federal dollars are being used in the election process. Senate Bill 289 prohibits the state from spending federal money for election-related activities unless approved by a majority in both the House and Senate.
• Making audits open and bipartisan (SB 288). Voters must have trust in our elections process and know that elections are being conducted honestly. Senate Bill 288 requires the Secretary of State to provide a live video stream of an audit on their website and specifies that the process be bipartisan.
• Canvassers must be present and approve assistants (SB 297). Current law allows for a county board of canvassers to hire assistants to conduct to canvass for them, without a requirement that a canvasser be present during the work. Senate Bill 297 requires that at least one canvasser from each party must always be present during the canvass, and that any assistants hired by the county to assist with the canvass must be approved by the board of canvassers.
• Expanding Board of Canvassers for large populations (SB 296). It was clear from the last election that boards of canvassers in our larger counties need more individuals on the board to properly oversee the canvass. Senate Bill 296 provides parameters for expanding the board of canvassers. If a county has a population over 200,000, the board of canvassers will be expanded to six, and counties with a population over 750,000 will be expanded to eight.
• Extending time to canvass (SB 298). Giving canvassers enough time to certify election results helps ensure that the process is honest, and the results are accurate. Senate Bill 298 expands the canvassing period from 14 to 21 days.
• Extending tabulated results submission timeframe (SB 299). Every voter, regardless of political ideology, must be able to trust the execution and results of every election, every time. Senate Bill 299 extends the time local clerks have to submit the tabulated results documentation until noon the day after the election.
• Allowing for public posting of clerks (SB 306). The public deserves to know how their local clerk runs an election. Senate Bill 306 requires that the Secretary of State submit a report to the Legislature 45 days after the election detailing the names of each county, city, and township clerk who are not current with their training and continuing education, including workers the clerks are responsible for training, and that this information be posted on the Secretary of State website.
ABSENTEE VOTING REFORMS
With the massive increase in absentee voting, improvements are necessary to ensure every vote is protected and secured, from the time a voter personally requests their AV ballot application to when the AV ballot is being transported to be processed and counted. Our bills will provide greater security for absentee voters by:
• Increasing ballot drop box requirements, establish a chain of custody for AV ballots (SB 273, 278). Ensuring the security of absentee ballots after voters leave them in a drop box is critical to maintaining the integrity of our elections. Senate Bills 273 and 278 provide increased security for drop boxes, including high-quality video with proper lighting to be installed at drop box locations, boxes must be clearly labeled, only authorized individuals can pick up AV ballots from boxes and must follow transportation requirements, and full process from pick-up to drop-off must be documented. .
• Allowing for AV count board and challenger shifting (SB 279). Clarity is needed in this area of election law as there is a lot of confusion on how challengers are allowed to participate in the AV counting boards. Senate Bill 279 specifies that any AV counting board must allow two challengers from each party for every 2,999 ballots and allows for challengers to be replaced if the board continues to work after the polls close on Election Day as long as they fulfill the requirements.
• Allowing for preprocessing of AV ballots (SB 283). With the increased amount of AV, allowing for preprocessing of AV ballots reduces the amount of time needed to count AV ballots on Election Day while still maintaining ballot integrity. Senate Bill 283 makes permanent the change that was made for the last election that helped clerks manage the increase in absentee ballots and allows for preprocessing of AV ballots between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. the Monday before the election.
• Requiring photo ID for AV ballot application (SB 285). Numerous concerns were raised after the last election about the lack of verification on AV ballot applications, increasing the chances for fraud. Senate Bill 285 requires voters to provide a copy of a photo ID, their driver’s license number, their state identification number, or the last four digits of their social security number when submitting an AV ballot application in order to verify their identity. If the voter doesn’t present photo ID, they will be given a provisional ballot.
• Prohibiting prepaid postage on AV ballots (SB 287). The postal service shouldn’t charge for AV ballots, but it’s not fair to Michigan voters to have postage paid for in some areas and not others. Senate Bill 287 prohibits a city or township from providing prepaid postage on AV ballot envelopes.
• Stopping mass mailings of AV ballot applications (SB 310). The Secretary of State created confusion by mass mailing absentee ballot applications, instead of the leaving it to the local clerks. The list used by the Secretary of State was outdated and poor quality, resulting in applications being mailed to people who were deceased or hadn’t lived in locations for years. Prohibiting unsolicited mass-mailing of AV ballot applications by the Secretary of State will reduce chances of fraud, and an elector can be provided an AV ballot application from their local clerk upon request.
• Stronger signature verification requirements (SB 308). To enshrine a recent court ruling clarifying how the signature verification process should work, the Secretary of State must require signature verification training for all local clerks and precinct inspectors, and the verification process must be objective and not require an initial presumption of a signature’s validity.