LANSING, Mich., Feb. 23, 2021 — State Reps. Padma Kuppa (D-Troy), Jim Haadsma (D-Battle Creek) and Kara Hope (D-Holt) introduced bills today to improve transparency and access to voting in Michigan elections. The Vote at Home legislative package (HBs 4360-4362 ) would make it easier for Michigan voters to receive and return absentee ballots, help local clerks strengthen the absentee voting process and hold circulators accountable for lying about the contents of petitions.
“A free and fair election open to every eligible voter—even during a global pandemic— is the bedrock of our democracy,” said Kuppa. “We must do everything we can to make voting easier and safer for our citizens while providing our election administrators with the tools they need to make that happen.”
HB 4362 (Kuppa) would amend Michigan Election Law to require local clerks to send absentee ballot applications with prepaid return postage to every registered voter with the costs to be reimbursed by the state. The bill would also allow clerks to tabulate absentee ballots up to 22 days before election day, counting ballots or establishing results would be prohibited, and notify absentee voters about a problem with their signature and establish a process to fix the problem.
“Voters passed no-reason absentee voting in 2018 and a record 3.3 million cast absentee ballots in the last election,” said Haadsma. “It is abundantly clear that safe and secure voting is a priority for Michiganders.”
HB 4361 (Haadsma) would ensure voters automatically received absentee ballot applications by requiring local clerks to maintain a permanent absent voter list. The bill would also help clerks establish polling locations based on likely in-person voters.
“Michigan voters expect our elections, including the petition process, to be run with honesty and integrity,” said Hope. “Unfortunately, there is nothing in Michigan law that prevents circulators from lying to people about the petitions they are asking them to sign. This is fraud pure and simple, and we must put an end to it.”
HB 4360 (Hope) would prohibit circulators from intentionally making misleading or false statements to potential signees about the contents of a petition, initiated law, referendum or recall. Penalties for individuals would include a civil fine of up to $1,000 and the entity employing the guilty circulator would be charged with a misdemeanor and face a $10,000 fine.