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This is not transparent governance

Updated: Jun 15, 2023


by Patrice Johnson | June 13, 2023


Bills were introduced and then heard in committee within 24 to 48 hours (depending upon the chamber), and now it's clear you are going to vote on them without further testimony in your hearings this week.
This is not transparent governance.

The excerpt above was sent June 12 in a message from Bill Richardson to the Mich. House Elections Committee and its chair, Representative Penelope Tsernoglou (D).


Under the guise of having to issue election rules in September of this year, the majority party is ramming eight paired bills—16 in total— through the House and Senate this week alone.


PIME’s Legislative Committee, led by Bill Richardson, “has been drinking from a firehouse” of disturbing pop-up legislation. "The point here," he said, "is we only had 24 hours notice last week before we testified. There will be no testimony this week. They are only going to vote on these bills and get them to the floor."


The PIME team scrambled and submitted the written statement summarized below in time for the today’s 10:30 a.m. House Elections Committee hearing.


Meanwhile, in the Senate chamber, Sen. Ed McBroom (R) negotiated a backroom deal with Senate Majority Leader Winnie Brinks (D). In a unilateral act of acquiescence, McBroom agreed to language to amend one of the companion bills moving through the Senate.


Thanks to McBroom, Senate Bill 339 will now allow ERIC, the Electronic Registration Information Center, to acquire even more of Michigan residents’ private, protected personal information (PII), including their phone numbers and email addresses. Then ERIC, as stated in its 2019 agreement with Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, is allowed to share this PII at its discretion with undisclosed agents, contractors, and subcontractors of its choosing. One known third party is CEIR, the ultra Left Center for Innovation and Research. Its founder and chair, David Becker, also founded and previously chaired ERIC.


After McBroom agreed to the amended language, Brinks whisked Substitute Senate Bill 339 to the floor of the Senate and passed it by roll call vote, 327 yeas, 22 nays, 16 excused.


Thanks to McBroom, the bill is likely to pass the House and go to the desk of Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D). She is expected to sign it into law.


McBroom’s untoward negotiation is particularly disconcerting because he undercut the efforts of the ranking Republican on the senate elections committee, Sen. Ruth Johnson was actively negotiating to put guard rails on the bill. (Article to follow.)


ACT NOW: Contact your representatives. Tell them to oppose HB 4594.


Tell them also to oppose these bills coming up for hearing today:

  • HB 4695/SB 367

  • HB 4697/SB 372

  • HB 4698/SB 373

  • HB 4699/SB 369

  • HB 4700/SB 370

  • HB 4702/SB 374

Below are Bill Richardson’s letter and descriptions of the bills in hearing in the House today.


June 12, 2023


To: Representative Chair Tsernoglou, Clerk Sleeper, and House Elections Committee:


Please find attached Pure Integrity Michigan Elections (PIME) written testimony for the bills on the agenda for the June 13th House Elections Cmte hearing.


Clerk Sleeper, please attach this statement to the committee meeting record.


I would like to also add that the process on these bills has not been transparent. No time has been offered the public for consumption of these bills and since no time has been allowed for consumption, no public testimony has been possible. I may be wrong, but I think that PIME is the only person or organization that has provided testimony that wasn't actually part of the process of developing these bills, and therefore had no forewarning of their introduction and very little time for review. Bills were introduced and then heard in committee within 24 to 48 hours (depending upon the chamber), and now it's clear you are going to vote on them without further testimony in your hearings this week.


This is not transparent governance.


Regards,


Bill Richardson

Chair - PIME Legislative Committee


Consider taking excerpts from PIME’s written statement and sending them to your representatives, senators, and members of the Michigan House Committees:


HB 4695/SB 367: Provides for and clarifies “early voting procedures” which have mutated from the already daunting 9 days of early voting to 29 days.


PIME POSITION: OPPOSE.

PIME understands legislation must be written to enact Proposal 2. However, we have many concerns with the current language in this bill. Here are some examples:

  1. There is no language to protect minority groups, who have a much lower turnout when they are forced to drive further to the polls. A study published by houstonpublicmedia.org determined that a one mile increase in a drive to the polls reduced voter turnout for people of color by 19%, while only reducing white voter turnout by 5%. Language to protect voters from long drives was in early drafts of the bill, but has been removed.

  2. Too much authority is being given to a partisan office, namely the SOS office.

Ø PIME has proposed the establishment of a bi-partisan committee made up of legislators and clerks to design and develop systems required by the early voting amendment.

Ø Our constitution requires the legislature determine the “time, place, and manner” of elections, not the SOS.

  1. Current drafts allow “print on demand” ballots. The very same type of ballots that caused major voter suppression in AZ in last year’s presidential election.

  2. Current drafts allow different ballot types to be tabulated in the same tabulator. This does not promote confidence in our election process and would make recounts very difficult for canvassers. PIME supports one tabulator per ballot type.

  3. Allows up to 29 days for early voting! The 9 days allowed in Proposal 2 is plenty. Extending this to a voting ‘month’ or ‘season’ only works to defeat voter’s confidence in election results and is a waste of taxpayer dollars.

  4. Current draft allow for daily updates to e-poll books and the QVF. There are obvious concerns with tracking who has voted and who is registered when the list is changing daily across the state. The process should remain as it has always been, with a final QVF loaded into the e-poll book at the beginning of the election process and not changing until the election is over.


HB 4696/SB 368 Criminal procedure; sentencing guidelines; sentencing guidelines for certain early voting violations under the Michigan election law; provide for.


PIME POSITION: SUPPORT.



HB 4697/SB 372: Elections; absent voter ballot drop boxes; requirements for absent voter ballot drop boxes; modify.


PIME POSITION: OPPOSE as written.

Again, PIME understands that Proposal 2 requires a ballot drop box for every 15,000 voters. However, as with HB4695, we have many concerns with the bill’s current language. Here are some examples:

  1. Providing more drop boxes than one for each 15,000 voters would only add cost to the taxpayers (for req’d monitoring) and would only raise concerns about voter fraud and fraudulent ballots.

  2. Ballot drop boxes should NOT be equipped with mailbox style levers. There is no reason for this since ballot harvesting is not allowed in Michigan. All ballot drop boxes should be equipped with a slot no larger than necessary to accept a single ballot.

  3. Video monitoring requirement is struck and the phrase “may use video monitoring….to ensure effective monitoring of drop boxes”. We need video monitoring to instill confidence in our elections.

Ø Furthermore, PIME believes that livestream of video surveillance should be made available for public viewing. This would bolster confidence in the election process.

  1. In section 761.d(14)(b), why is “The total number of absent voter ballot return envelopes collected from the absent voter ballot drop box” struck from the requirements list of what the clerk must keep records on. This should be re-instated, again, to make voters confident in the election process and absentee ballot submission.


HB 4698/SB 373: Elections; voters; definition of identification for election purposes; expand


PIME POSITION: OPPOSE


Introducing the “educational institution” definition to include any accrediting institution lowers the standard for ID requirements. 72% of Michigan voters support voter ID laws. Any ID that doesn’t contain at least the information required on the “application to vote” at the polls should not be allowed as a voting ID. Section (g) should be removed and the old section k(ix) should be un-struck.



HB 4699/SB 369: Elections; absent voters; provisions regarding permanent mail ballot voters; implement, and modify certain election material retention periods.


PIME POSITION: OPPOSE as written.


Once again PIME understands the requirements of Proposal 2, but this bill goes too far. We have the following concerns with this bill:

  1. Sec 759g - This section is too vague and again puts too much authority in control of a partisan office (SOS). Specifics should be laid out in the bill, like how and when the discontinuation list will be managed and when the discontinuation will happen.

  2. 6 years is too long to continue to send absentee ballots to someone who has not voted. This should not be more than 2 years (~6 elections). (Sec 7593.3.d). Having unused ballots floating around in the public for 6 years does not promote confidence in election results.

    • This is also a waste of taxpayer dollars.


HB 4700/SB 370:: Elections; absent voters; signature matching and curing for absent voter ballot applications and absent voter ballot return envelopes; provide for, and provide for modifications to the absent voter ballot application and process.


PIME POSITION: OPPOSE as written.


PIME has many concerns with this bill as written:

  1. You seem to be waiving the signature requirement for an AVB application by allowing it to happen online (sec 759(1))

  2. The bill would allow a voter to ‘cure’ a ballot that has been rejected and have it counted in the election up until 5:00 pm on the 3rd day AFTER THE ELECTION. [new section 761(3)]. We simply cannot keep extending the time frame of accepting ballots past election day. This does not bolster confidence in our election results.

  3. Electronic signatures would be allowed not only on the absentee ballot application, but also on any required ‘cure’ forms. This seems terribly easy to ‘hack’.

  4. “The SOS may issue instructions to clerks to provide electors with other options, other than by providing a signature.” [sec 766a(6)]

Ø This is another effort to avoid signature verification and more control being put into a partisan office (SOS).

  1. The workload being added to the clerks in this bill is astonishing and much of it is not necessary. There is a lot of ‘talk’ about helping the clerks do their job, but the ‘actions’ required in this bill and others prove the opposite is happening.


HB 4702/SB 374: Elections; other; precinct size; increase.


PIME POSITION: OPPOSE


This bill has nothing to do with Proposal 2 and was in fact also introduced last year (and PIME opposed it then). PIME has the following comments on this bill:

  1. Precinct size should not be raised. If anything it should be lowered. If you’ve ever worked an election, you know that if you actually had to process 2999 voters in person, the line would be hours long all day long. There is no reason to increase the precinct size and this only has the potential to over stress election workers who we know are already in short supply. Processing even 1/3 of this number of people (1000 voters) in a day would result in 1–2 hour voting lines all day long, especially given the ‘last minute’ provisions that are being allowed, forcing election workers to process same day paperwork and voter ID ‘affidavits’ for people who don’t produce IDs and/or register same day. We also don’t believe that clerks want this when you see many clerks choosing to reduce precinct size to less than 1000 voters.

  2. Oversight on the number of voting machines is being removed.

  3. This move has the potential to create longer lines at the polls and discourage people from voting (i.e., voter suppression).



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