Updated: Jul 18
by Jeff Schaeper, MFE writer | July 10, 2023
If you enjoyed the 2020 election amusement, you’ll surely enjoy what’s new at the election amusement park for 2024. Step right up to the Election Reform Amusement Park, sponsored by the Michigan House, Michigan Senate, Governor’s office and Secretary of State’s office, a trifecta under Democrat control.
Under the guise of needing to pass election reform laws for Proposal 2022-2 (Prop 2), the Michigan House and Senate distorted the intent of Prop 2 in ways that voters neither intended nor would likely approve. Actual provisions of Prop2 – what the voters actually voted for – were given a ride on the roller coaster and then tossed into the house of mirrors.
The first carnival ride passed bills that were rushed through committee hearings and left legislators with their heads spinning. The second ride tossed protocol to the wind, and bypassed citizen input.
Proposal 2, as voted on by the people, called for nine days of early voting. But the bills that flew through, SB367/HB4695, legally mandated an option of up to 29 days of early voting. Twenty-nine days of keeping voting machines running and secure. Twenty-nine days of paid staff to run the elections, and 29 days of locking and storing equipment each night.
A clerk who wishes to remain anonymous wrote this to Michigan Fair Elections:
We will be forced to combine with other small municipalities for the 9 days, have ALL the various ballots on hand, and find a location to accommodate everything. My voters will have to go to one location for the early voting, drop off a ballot at another location, and vote on Election Day at another.
Look around and what does a voter see? Confusion layered onto obfuscation.
One bill allows fro print-on-demand ballots, which was not a provision of Prop 2. Did the legislators pay attention to what happened to Arizona in 2022, or were they riding a Ferris wheel?
Hold up one voter’s ballot, and one will see hundreds of ballots with no control over the number of ballots circulating in the house of mirrors.
Thanks to the passage of Senate Bill 369 and its identical version House Bill 4699, absentee ballots will be sent automatically to a voter who has not voted for six years.
To quote our frustrated anonymous clerk, “Until now, sending applications was a way to know we had an incorrect address. Now, we will be sending ballots to a last known address. The amount of returned mail is astonishing already.”
Thanks to the passage of those bills, an individual in Michigan could vote two times each year for six years, or more. To those who doubt this could happen, ponder this potential scenario:
Say Joe Smith applies for and is sent an absentee ballot. He votes. A few months later Joe moves to another county. For the next six years, the person who now resides at Joe’s former address--Let’s call her Helen Jones—is going to receive a ballot for Joe. Helen can complete Joe’s ballot without needing to provide proof of identity. Meanwhile Joe votes in person in his other county.
After the magical sixth year, no more of Joe's automatic absentee ballots will be sent to Helen.
Multiply that scenario a few thousand times, and you enter the house of horrors.
No more proof of identity
HB4567, in committee, would remove the previous legal requirement that an absentee voter’s ballot could be challenged and removed if no proof of identify is provided. Registering 16 year olds and letting overseas voters vote electronically without ID, are waiting in the wings. Ranked choice voting, if passed, will dizzy the process and make recounts and audits impossible.
If on one of those 29 days of early voting or on Election Day itself, a voter cannot produce some type of photo identification, the Secretary of State may provide expanded options (something other than a signature) for someone to prove who they are under SB370/HB4700.
Yes, you read that correctly. The legislature gave one person, the Secretary of State, the legal authority to make that determination. Might monogrammed towels count as an “expanded option” to prove one’s identity? What about a coffee mug bearing the person’s mugshot? If you think that’s absurd, ask yourself what sources are available to verify a person’s identity other than some sort of photo identification or a signature? Maybe Kroger will print photo shopping cards.
If someone enters to vote and is not registered in that precinct, that person used to have to travel a few blocks and vote in their home precinct. No more. Now, thanks to our sage lawmakers, voters may cast a provisional ballot and cure it as late as three days after Election Day. Proposal 2 was mute on this issue,
A ballot can now be cured as late as three days after Election Day. But on Election Day clerks must take all ballots and tabulator records to the courthouse. How can these ballots be cured? Does an individual have to go to the courthouse to cure a ballot? Can a clerk leave ballots in the city, village, or township office? Three days later may the clerk show up at the courthouse and turn in a few more ballots?
Walk further into the Election Reform Amusement Park to find that precincts have increased in size. Until the passage of these new laws, precincts were limited in size to 2,999 registered voters. Now, precincts will serve 5,000 people. This is great for those who enjoy waiting in long lines at the amusement park.
As a Michigan resident, you have a full-season admission ticket to the Election Reform Amusement Park. You can sit back and, as they say, enjoy the ride--or the chaos.
Instead, please consider using your time in a different way. Cntact your elected officials. Subscribe to Michigan Fair Elections (MFE) for updates. Become involved in the local election process in your precinct. You can assist clerks as they struggle to navigate this onslaught of burdensome laws. You can express your concerns to your Michigan Representative and Senator, and then dig in and work for the better.
Notice on the summary below how many of the bills that passed or are under consideration that have no connection with any provision of Prop 2. Yet when people protest that these measures for weakening our elections or adding excess burdens on our clerks, critics howl they are thwarting the “will of the people.”
If you believe that, you'll believe the shape-shifting contortions looking back at you from the house of mirrors.