Representative encourages residents to speak up about proposed changes
State Rep. Luke Meerman, chair of the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules, today announced an opportunity for residents to voice their opinion about new election procedures proposed by the Michigan Secretary of State.
The Bureau of Elections has submitted three new rules for public review that would weaken signature matching standards, shift control of absentee voter applications from local clerks to Lansing bureaucrats, and place onerous new requirements on city and township officials who are untrained in campaign finance laws.
Meerman said residents can fill out an online form to submit comments that will be sent to the Secretary of State prior to its Oct. 1 public hearing on the proposed rules.
“Secretary Benson’s proposed changes would weaken protections put in place to keep Michigan’s elections secure. The fact is, this is about furthering her own political agenda,” said Meerman, of Coopersville. “The voices of Michigan voters matter. Make sure the Secretary of State hears your concerns by filling out this online comment form today.”
Currently, local clerks are responsible for issuing absentee ballots to voters. Under the new proposed rules, Benson would create an electronic portal controlled by Lansing bureaucrats, taking away control from the election officials who live and work in local communities. This same rule would allow people applying for an absentee ballot online to use the stored digital signature on file with the Secretary of State instead of providing an original ink signature that officials can rely upon to verify an absentee ballot is being mailed to the person eligible to receive that ballot.
Another new rule would require election officials to presume a voter’s signature is valid instead of enabling clerks to verify the voter’s identity by comparing the signature on an absentee ballot to the one on file. Meerman said signature verification is an essential part of preventing fraud in Michigan’s elections.
The final rule would create a new process for disqualifying candidates based upon certain information on their affidavit of identity. City and township clerks do not have training with Michigan’s Campaign Finance Act since campaign finance reports are filed with the Secretary of State’s office or a county clerk’s office, yet this rule would call upon them to find and review files to determine whether a candidate should be disqualified.
Many campaign finance reports are not available online and would require county, township, and city staff to manually search records across the state. A major undertaking that will increase costs and cause delays for clerks’ offices that are already understaffed.
Worst of all, Meerman said candidates who have their affidavit of identity disqualified under the new rule cannot reverse the disqualification by filing a correct affidavit, even before the filing deadline.
Residents with concerns should visit https://gophouse.org/posts/protectmielections to provide feedback on the rules before Oct. 1.