A pair of election bills sponsored by a local legislator have been advanced to a vote by the Michigan Senate.
The bills, sponsored by state Rep. Ann Bollin (R-Brighton) seek to expand polling places and enhance training requirements for poll challengers. They were approved by the Senate Elections Committee after previously passing in the House.
Similar legislation was vetoed last year by Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, but changes in these latest bills is expected to overcome those objections.
House Bill 6124 would establish a consistent training program for people throughout the state to become credentialed poll challengers. State law does not currently have any requirements for challengers to receive training.
“Challengers play a critical role our elections process,” said Bollin. “Michigan has streamlined training programs that all elections inspectors and clerks in Michigan must go through, and challengers should be no different. This training will ensure that everyone involved in our elections understands what types of activity can be challenged and how to go about making a challenge.”
Whitmer vetoed last year’s bill as it lacked a funding mechanism. The current legislation is tied to funding already approved by the legislature.
Also approved was House Bill 6071 would expand the options available for suitable locations to conduct elections to include a privately owned building such as a banquet center or a recreation clubhouse, as long as the building is not owned by a candidate for office or someone who runs a political action committee. Bollin said this reform has long been a priority for Michigan’s municipal clerks.
“If a school or a church isn’t able to open its doors for an election, this change will give our local communities other options,” Bollin said.
While the Michigan Department of State has taken a neutral stance on the bills, the legislation has the support of municipal clerks, the ACLU and the Michigan League of Conservation Voters.