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Senate Republicans introduce election reforms

LANSING, Mich. — Senate Republicans on Wednesday introduced comprehensive reforms to ensure election access and integrity in Michigan and to restore trust in a system vital to democracy in the state.

“For any republic to survive, it must be built on the solid foundation of free and fair elections,” said Sen. John Bizon, M.D., R-Battle Creek. “Today we took a major step forward to not only help guarantee secure elections but also to ensure fairness to observers and increase overall transparency.”

The Senate Republican measures include 39 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 reforms in the 15 bills Bizon co-sponsored include:
• Requiring voters to present or attach a photo ID (actual or copy) when submitting their absentee voter ballot application.
• Prohibiting the use of third-party money for election activities.
• Requiring clerk staff to accompany all absentee voter (AV) ballots in transit and to maintain a chain of custody log.
• Allowing video and audio recording wherever votes are being tabulated and during audit proceedings.
• Requiring the ratio of partisan election inspectors in voting precincts to be as close to 1:1 as possible.
• 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.
• Increasing security requirements for ballot drop boxes.

Senate Bills 273-311 have been referred to the Senate Elections Committee for consideration.