Measures clean up state’s voter rolls, improve efficiency of local elections
State Rep. David Martin today voted to help improve Michigan’s elections system through a series of bipartisan reforms.
The measures approved by the Michigan House would remove outdated and uncertain information from the state’s qualified voter files, improve the absentee ballot counting process, and hold local clerks accountable if they have not completed required training.
“These are common-sense reforms that won bipartisan support because they will help our elections run more smoothly, improve integrity and add accountability,” said Martin, of Davison. “This isn’t a partisan issue – it’s the right thing to do to make our system more secure and make sure the public will have confidence in future elections.”
An audit of the state’s Bureau of Elections released in December 2019 highlighted the need for better procedures to remove or update information for voters with birthdates that indicate they are 120 years old. Outdated information in the state’s qualified voter file then caused problems last year when the Secretary of State mailed absent voter applications to all voters in the file and numerous households reported receiving applications for people who have been deceased for years.
The plan approved by the House would set up a procedure to update or remove records in the qualified voter file if an individual hasn’t voted since the 2000 November general election or if the individual has a placeholder – or unspecified – date of birth.
“Keeping a person’s name on our voter rolls long after they pass away or move out of state is a bad practice, plain and simple,” Martin said. “We’re taking action to clean up the list while making sure each and every eligible voter continues to have their voice heard.”
Other measures approved by the House would:
- Allow a city or township to expand the size of its election precincts to account for the drop-off in the number of people voting in person. Current law limits election precincts to 2,999 registered voters. The new reforms would allow precincts to contain up to 5,000 registered voters, freeing up more equipment and staff to process absentee ballots.
- Require any city or township with more than one precinct to establish an absent voter counting board.
- Require the Secretary of State to publish a list on its website of local clerks who are not up to date with their required continuing education or training.
- Adjust due dates and deadlines for reviewing certain types of campaign finance statements and lobby reports, providing Bureau of Election employees a reasonable amount of time to review the documents by the deadline in state law.
The bipartisan plan – contained in House Bills 4127-31 and House Bills 4134-35 – now advances to the Senate for further consideration.
State Rep. David Martin of Davison gives a speech at the state Capitol Wednesday, urging support for his resolution standing up for the children and families of Flint who are affected by the Flint water crisis and pushing back against the exorbitant amount requested as attorney fees in the proposed settlement of a lawsuit brought by residents.