Legislators Announce Plans to Overhaul Michigan's Election System, Asking Public to Share Stories of Problems at the Polls

Lansing – Senate Democratic Leader Gretchen Whitmer joined with colleagues today to announce plans to begin major reforms to how Michigan's elections are run after significant concerns were raised throughout the year about the politicization of the Secretary of State's office and voters being forced to wait for hours before being able to cast their ballots in this week's elections.

“We've seen throughout our Secretary of State's tenure that she is far more focused on playing politics than she is on ensuring our elections were being run properly,” said Senator Whitmer. “It is unacceptable to force people to wait in line for hours to exercise their right to vote and the process we'll begin today will not only remove the partisan politics from that office, but will modernize our system of elections across the board to ensure each and every voter can quickly and securely cast their ballots.”

Whitmer said she would be working with legislators in both chambers as well as election experts across the state to develop a framework for a modern and efficient system of elections that would replace existing processes and regulations. Those discussions will include:

Eliminating the position of Secretary of State as a partisan elected official and re-establishing the election and motor vehicle duties of the office under existing state departments.
Establishing early voting and no-reason absentee voting opportunities similar to what a majority of states offer their voters.
Improve the training of election inspectors to avoid confusion at the polls.
Explore modern and secure methods of voting including online and mobile voting to utilize available technologies to give voters options on how they can submit their ballots more quickly.

“The system is broken and it's time for us to be bold and make the drastic changes to how we run our elections across the country and right here in Michigan,” said Ingham County Clerk Mike Bryanton. “We are the greatest democracy in the world and it's unconscionable that anyone should have to stand in line for hours in order to fulfill one of the most fundamental responsibilities to citizenship. We have the technology and the ingenuity to fix this, we simply need the will from both parties to make it happen.”

State Senator Steve Bieda added that while members have been hearing numerous stories already of problems at the polls, they are all asking the public to share specific instances of delays or malfunctions while voting, including their city and precinct number, so that they can further address them with the Secretary of State's office.

The public is invited to share their stories online at www.facebook.com/RespectMIVote or by emailing respectmivote@gmail.com.

“We've heard from voters throughout Michigan that were extremely concerned with how this week's election was handled and it's our responsibility as legislators to address these inadequacies of our election system if the Secretary of State is unwilling to do it herself,” said State Senator Steve Bieda. “We have the ability to fix this problem and it'd be an insult to the voters who were forced to stand in lines for hours if we didn't take action.”

Whitmer said that they would be asking Republicans in both the House and Senate to begin these discussions immediately and help Michigan lead the nation in modernizing our election system and ensuring that each and every voter has the opportunity to participate in our elections.