VanderWall introduces legislation to improve election access and integrity

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Curt VanderWall introduced legislation Wednesday to help safeguard secure elections in the state and give every voter confidence in the results.

VanderWall’s 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.

“There were many concerns and questions raised during the election last year, and we have identified many areas in which we can improve the process,” said VanderWall, R-Ludington. “These reforms will help ensure safe and 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.

VanderWall sponsored Senate Bill 304, which would establish a six-day window after an election for those who were provided a provisional ballot to come to the clerk’s office and present their photo ID. The bill also would require a notice to be provided to those receiving a provisional ballot on how an individual can obtain a state ID, free of charge.

“A financial hardship should not be a barrier to voting,” VanderWall said. “If a qualified voter doesn’t have the financial means to obtain a photo ID, one can be provided free of charge.”

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, and ensuring audits are bipartisan and open to the public.

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.
• Prohibiting the use of third-party money for election activities.
• 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.