Commentary

Michigan's Elections, Like Our Roads, Desperately Need Repairs

By Dan Reynolds | July 1, 2021 | 10:07am EDT
A voter fills out a ballot. (Photo credit: JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP via Getty Images)
A voter fills out a ballot. (Photo credit: JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP via Getty Images)

Right now, Michigan’s elections are a lot like our roads: full of potholes and needing long-overdue repairs.

The 2020 election was no different, with varying ID requirements for mail-in ballots and ballots cast in-person, lack of drop box security, out-of-state money, and outdated voter rolls. It is no wonder so many elected officials are now reevaluating Michigan’s election processes.

As a lifelong Michigander, I take the election process as seriously as I take my Euchre.

I look to officials like Sens. Ruth Johnson (R-Holly) and Ed McBroom (R-Waucedah) to implement reforms that restore confidence in the Michigan election system, which is what they have done with the package of election reforms that include SB 273, SB 281, and SB 284.

With these reforms, Sens. Johnson and McBroom aim to close loopholes with current ID requirements, voter roll checks, out-of-state money, and drop box security to protect the voice of every Michigan voter.

Polling even shows that major aspects of these reforms are supported by a majority of Michigan voters with 53% supporting government-issued ID requirements for absentee ballots and 71% supporting government-issued ID requirements for in-person voting—as long as IDs are provided for free to eligible voters. 

It is clear that after the 2020 election, concerned Michigan voters are acknowledging the need to further secure elections.

Last fall for instance, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson mass-mailed 7.7 million absentee ballot applications—whether or not a voter had already requested one. A great use of $4.5 million taxpayer dollars. Startlingly, these applications did not even require a photo ID to be returned to the Secretary of State.

That’s something the senators’ election reform package will change with the circumstance that Michigan will provide free IDs to certain classes of voters to ensure no disenfranchisement.

Another reform included in SB 281 requires that states periodically check voter rolls to ensure they are completely up to date. This is a much-needed reform after the Michigan legislature discovered more than 300,000 people still registered in Michigan despite having not voted in over 20 years.

Drop box security during the 2020 election was also a major issue in Michigan with one community reportedly finding fake drop boxes in the area—an obvious attempt by a bad actor to confuse voters.

In Lansing, drop boxes were even mistakenly left unlocked due to improper construction.

This is the kind of carelessness you only get from the government, and it only hurts the integrity of elections in Michigan.

To combat this, election reforms in SB 273 require secure, high-quality video monitorization of all drop box locations, an easily implemented reform focused on security, and likely to cost much less than $4.5 million.

One of the most important reforms is SB 284’s ban of private money use in public elections.

During the 2020 election, the Center for Technology and Civic Life (CTCL) estimated to have contributed more than $7.6 million in private money to local Michigan elections.

The Democrat-led non-profit, funded by Big Tech and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, claimed these “Zuckerbucks” were to be used as additional resources to help election jurisdictions “safely serve every voter” amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, the data show that funds were largely used for get-out-the-vote efforts that influenced voter turnout and may have impacted the results of the elections in many states.

These commonsense reforms aim to restore Michigan voter’s trust in the election process by closing the loopholes that became more prevalent in the 2020 election.

Together, we can continue to improve our election system with straight-forward, common-sense solutions to enhance the integrity of our elections, which will simply make our elections and our state that much purer.

Dan Reynolds is communications manager for the Foundation for Government Accountability.

MRC Store