Lauwers introduces legislation to improve election integrity

LANSING, Mich. — Senate Majority Floor Leader Dan Lauwers introduced legislation Wednesday to help safeguard secure elections in the state and give every voter confidence in the results.

Lauwers’ measure is part of a comprehensive, 39-bill package introduced by Senate Republicans to ensure election access and integrity in Michigan and to restore trust in a system vital to democracy in the state.

“Everyone must have confidence that our elections system is fair, safe and open,” said Lauwers, R-Brockway Township. “The reforms introduced today will increase transparency in the process and ensure people are guaranteed access to secure elections.”

Senate Bills 273-311 would make improvements in five areas — making it easier to vote, protecting the vote, election day operations, increased transparency, and absentee voting.

Lauwers sponsored Senate Bill 284, which would prohibit state or local units of government from accepting money or other compensation related to election activity or equipment and require the secretary of state to provide a report to the Legislature detailing each contract the secretary of state has entered into for an election-related activity or service.

“There have been problems related to these issues in past elections,” Lauwers said. “We need to maintain a separation between political and legislative entities. This bill will help ensure that we do so.”

The Senate Republican measures include bills covering a wide variety of issues dealing with processes before, during and after an election, such as protecting ballot security in drop boxes, ensuring proper management of the state’s Qualified Voter File, requiring training of poll challengers, ensuring audits are bipartisan and open to the public, and requiring early voting to be available 10 days before Election Day.

Some of the other reforms included in the election package include:
• Requiring voters to present or attach a photo ID (actual or copy) when submitting their absentee voter ballot application.
• Allowing for pre-registration of 16-year-olds to vote when they are issued a driver’s license or state ID if they are a U.S. citizen.
• Requiring challengers to be properly identified as representing a campaign or political party and listing their names, the entities they are with, and the precincts in which they are allowed to be present.
• Allowing video and audio recording wherever votes are being tabulated and during audit proceedings.
• Increasing security requirements for ballot drop boxes.

SBs 273-311 have been referred to the Senate Elections Committee for consideration.