Senate approves Johnson’s election equipment security bill

LANSING, Mich. — The state Senate on Wednesday approved Sen. Ruth Johnson’s legislation to make sure Michigan’s electronic voting systems don’t use equipment or parts made by foreign companies deemed a national security risk by the U.S. government.

“As a former Michigan secretary of state and county clerk, I understand the benefits of being proactive — especially when it comes to potential security risks,” said Johnson, R-Holly. “We are following the lead of the Trump and Biden administrations to ensure our voting machines are secure and protected from foreign influence and cybercriminals.

“Leaders in both parties have taken steps to protect our communications service from the growing threat of foreign-made technology — and this bill makes similar protections for our electronic voting systems.”

In 2019, the Trump administration barred U.S. firms from using the Chinese technology company Huawei’s technology or providing technology to the company, deeming it a national security risk.

President Joe Biden signed the Secure Equipment Act in 2021, requiring the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to establish rules stating it will no longer approve any authorization for equipment on the list of covered communications equipment or services — meaning equipment from Huawei, ZTE, and three other Chinese companies cannot be used in U.S. telecom networks.

Senate Bill 884 would apply the same standards in the federal Secure Equipment Act to all new electronic voting machines purchased or approved by election officials in Michigan.

The bill prohibits any electronic voting system purchased in Michigan on or after July 1, 2022 from including any parts or equipment produced or provided by a company with any communications equipment or services determined to represent a national security concern by the FCC. The Board of State Canvassers would also be prohibited from approving such systems for use.

SB 884 would not prohibit the repair, maintenance or acquisition of parts for the proper operation of existing systems acquired and approved prior to July 1, 2022.

The bill has been sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.

Senator Ruth Johnson