Two measures sponsored by state Rep. Ann Bollin to improve the operations of Michigan elections were approved this week by the Senate Elections Committee.
Bollin, a former Brighton Township clerk, sponsored the legislation to help local communities that are struggling to find suitable locations to conduct elections and establish training programs for people interested in serving as poll challengers.
“By focusing on broadly supported, common-sense ideas, we can improve the way Michigan elections operate and help things run more smoothly in the future,” Bollin said. “Both of these solutions have received bipartisan support during the legislative process.”
Throughout the state, many schools and churches that previously served as polling locations are no longer interested in hosting elections, and local clerks are finding it more difficult to secure enough polling places.
Currently, school buildings, fire stations, police stations and other publicly owned buildings must be used as polling locations. If it is not possible or convenient to use a publicly owned building, a township or city may opt to use a building owned by a nonprofit entity.
House Bill 6071 would expand the options 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.
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,” Bollin said. “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.”
Both measures now advance to the full Senate for further consideration.