Legislator questions cost, SOS Benson’s authority to make such decision
State Rep. Ann Bollin today sent a letter to the Secretary of State expressing her concerns about the decision to mail voter applications to all registered voters in the state for both the August and November elections – regardless of whether a voter wishes to receive an absentee application.
Bollin, who previously served as Brighton Township clerk for 16 years, asked Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson to explain where in the Michigan Election Law she draws the authority to mass mail voter applications, how much she expects the statewide mailing to cost, and where the funds are coming from.
“While I understand the hardships placed on voters during the COVID-19 pandemic and the need to prepare for the unknowns of COVID-19, I think the best solutions will be found by collaborating and consulting with those closest to the problem and that is the local clerks,” Bollin said. “I fail to see how spending the valuable and limited resources available through the CARES Act on the mass mailing of AV applications is prudent.
“The state is facing an incredible fund imbalance due to the crisis and I truly believe the CARE dollars should be spent on election expenses that local clerks need and that meet the intent of the CARES Act – those expenses directly related to COVID-19. For example, personal protection equipment for offices and election workers and additional tabulating machines.”
Bollin also asked the Secretary of State to explain whether the decision was a top-down mandate or whether local clerks – who normally handle the distribution of absentee ballot applications to their voters – would have a say in the process. She said the Secretary’s unilateral decision to mail the applications could lead to overlapping communications and confuse voters.
“I have heard from many local clerks of their concerns that you are duplicating efforts and undermining their role as election administrators,” Bollin wrote. “This has been further exacerbated by the ambiguity in recent Bureau of Elections newsletters and the lack of transparency on the issue.”