Reforms introduced to modernize, secure state’s elections

LANSING, Mich. — Senate Republicans on Wednesday introduced sweeping reforms to improve voting access in Michigan, ensure election integrity and restore trust in the outcome of a system vital to democracy in the state.

“A healthy and vibrant republic requires free, fair, and honest elections,” said Senate Oversight Committee Chairman Sen. Ed McBroom, R-Waucedah Township. “In order for an election to be fair, it should be simple for every registered voter to cast a ballot, the process must be honest, and the result must be true. Every Michiganian, regardless of political ideology, must be able to trust the execution and result of every election, every time, and the reforms we have introduced today will help us accomplish that.”

The 39-bill election reform package would make improvements in five areas ­— making it easier to vote, protecting the vote, election day operations, increased transparency, and absentee voting.

“Senate Republicans are committed to making it easier to vote and harder to cheat,” said Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake. “Sen. McBroom has done an outstanding job leading the Senate Oversight Committee’s election review and most of these reforms are the result of his hard work and commitment to improving our democracy.”

McBroom sponsored four bills in the plan.

Senate Bill 286 would require all absentee ballots cast on Election Day to be turned in to clerks directly so as not to delay the collection from numerous boxes after 8 p.m. on election night and the hours of processing and delivery to tabulators that ensues.

SB 296 would expand the size of boards of canvassers in counties with larger populations. The board in counties with a population over 200,000 would be expanded to six members, while boards in counties with a population over 750,000 would expand to eight members.

SB 297 would require that at least one canvasser from each political party be present during the canvass at all times and require that anyone hired by a political party to assist canvassing to first be approved by the board of canvassers.

SB 298 would expand the timeframe canvassers have to certify election results from 14 days to 21 days.

“Lawmakers must reassure citizens that their government is committed to honest elections,” McBroom said. “Through the Oversight Committee process, we have sought for months to uncover any fraud or cheating, because a violation of the rules is not good for our state or the country.

“I have been reassured by the resilience of our election system, but while the system’s safeguards held, real vulnerabilities do exist. To ensure the long-term health and viability of elections in our state, these issues must be resolved, and the reforms introduced today will address those problems and help modernize and secure our election laws now and in the future. We must strive to assure all people that every election is worthy of their participation.”

The legislation was referred to the Senate Committee on Elections for consideration.

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