State Rep. Mark Huizenga, chair of the House Appropriations General Government Subcommittee, today explored the impact of substantially expanded absentee voting on Michigan’s elections.
The committee welcomed comments from Kent County clerk Lisa Posthumus-Lyons and Michigan Department of State legislative policy director Adam Reames, discussing a recent announcement from Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson that all registered voters in Michigan will receive absentee ballot applications in the mail as the state continues to deal with fallout from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“There is a fair debate to be had about the broad authority that has been given to the Secretary of State through unilateral action,” said Huizenga, of Walker. “But the focus of this hearing was to examine how this announcement will impact the way elections are run in Michigan regarding funding, staffing, legitimacy and other key areas. This hearing was informative in learning more about the mechanism of our state’s elections, the timing and basis for this decision and the challenges such a decision will pose.”
Huizenga mentioned an account he received from a constituent in the greater Grand Rapids area about a neighbor who received five absentee ballot applications, even though just two people currently live at that particular residence. With a person’s past residence being sent ballot applications, the first-term legislator said such instances open the door for fraud and other concerns related to election integrity.
“We must protect the fundamental values and integrity of our state and country’s elections,” Huizenga said. “While absentee ballot requests are part of our election process already, voting in person is part of the fabric of our elections. As legislators responsible for crafting a budget and digging into state spending, we must also determine the best use of taxpayer money – which will be paying for 7.7 million ballots to be sent out in the mail.”