(Source: MIRS.news, Published 05/23/23) Remember those long lines outside university student halls on Election Day?
The clerks in Ann Arbor and East Lansing certainly do, and Tuesday they urged a House committee to drop a requirement that some of those voters' ballots be automatically challenged so future lines can move along faster.
Under the law, any ballot cast by someone voting and registering on Election Day without a driver license or Michigan ID must be processed as challenged. The argument is that these students could conceivably have voted once in their hometowns using their parents' address and voted a second time at school using their dorm or university apartment address.
However, it was argued by the local clerks this type of fraud doesn't happen. If someone tried it, the Secretary of State would ultimately catch him or her and that person would face a 5-year felony.
Ann Arbor Clerk Jacqueline Beaudry told the House Elections Committee this morning that at one of her satellite election offices at the University of Michigan, 978 in-person registrations were processed on Election Day alone.
This added eight hours to the process, despite not a single ballot ever being pulled from the system. In fact, in her 20 years of experience, Beaudry said she has never seen a challenged ballot get rejected.
The law still requires these students to provide some proof that they live where they say they live, said East Lansing Clerk Marie Wicks, a gas bill, a student ID, etc.
"There is simply no reason to treat these ballots as challenged when voters are still providing valid proof of residency," she said.
HB 4567, sponsored by Committee Chair Penelope Tsernoglou (D-East Lansing), will face a bumpy road because it opens the door to fraud, as pointed out by Rep. Jay DeBoyer (R-Clay), himself a former county clerk in this exchange with Beaudry.
DeBoyer: "If a person who commits fraud casts a ballot and it's run through the tabulator in both jurisdictions, will you be able to identify that ballot?"
DeBoyer: "Have you ever had a race in your history, or a race that you know of, that was decided by one vote? Or was tied."
Beaudry paused. She told Wicks privately afterward she realized she had walked into a trap.
DeBoyer: "We diverted here. We started talking about prosecuting the bad guy. That isn't the point. We want secure, definitive outcomes in elections."
No voting was taken on HB 4567, which is being run together as a package with a bill that allows a hired driver to bring someone to the polls (HB 4568), pre-registering 16-year-olds to vote when they get their driver's license (HB 4569) and putting in state law the ability to request an absentee ballot online (HB 4570).
The Elections Committee did move along a bill creating the legal mechanics for the absentee voter tracking system created through Proposal 3. That bill, HB 4594, sponsored by Rep. Dylan Wegela (D-Garden City), moved on a partisan 6-2 vote with Republicans voting against it.