February 7, 2021

Who could have known last year that we would still be talking about the November 2020 election in February 2021? The second impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump for Incitement to Insurrection began February 9 as a result of the January 6, 2021, mob violence at the nation’s capital.

Election Was Secure, Accurate — Meanwhile, a bi-partisan panel of local Michigan clerks, two Democrats and two Republicans including one who was a former Republican legislator, told the Michigan Senate Oversight Committee on February 2 that the November 2020 elections were conducted in a safe and secure manner. Additionally, they said that the post-election processes to re-count or audit the election currently in place are strong and provide failsafe measures to protect the integrity of the vote.

Ingham County Clerk Barb Byrum, Lansing Clerk Chris Swope, Kent County Clerk Lisa Posthumus Lyons, and Grand Rapids Clerk Joel Hondorp described election processes in detail and answered many questions. Byrum said despite the false claims of election fraud that were being voiced before and after the election, “what followed in the weeks to come was the confirmation that our process works, that the results were certified and accurate.”

Former President Donald Trump repeatedly and falsely claimed President Joe Biden did not legitimately win the election in part because hours after the polls closed, Trump led Biden by wide margins based on ballots counted to that point. However, most jurisdictions count Election Day precinct voters first, and that group in 2020 skewed heavily Republican. Democrats heavily voted using the absentee ballot process, and those ballots are generally counted after the precincts close. That meant once all the votes were tallied Biden won states like Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania that Tuesday evening showed Trump “ahead” based on only partial returns.

Benson Proposals — Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson on February 1 rolled out a number of election initiatives designed to ensure equitable access for voters, strengthen Michigan’s elections infrastructure, and guarantee the security of elections. Specifically, Benson is proposing the following:

  • Require absentee ballot applications be mailed to registered voters every federal election cycle;
  • Mandate ballots postmarked by Election Day and received shortly after are counted;
  • Establish early in-person voting;
  • Make Election Day a State holiday to facilitate voting and make it easier for citizens to serve as election workers;
  • Allow overseas service members and spouses to return their ballots electronically
  • Require translated election materials where a significant non-English-speaking community lives;
  • Provide funds to ensure voting locations are ADA-compliant and establish curbside voting;
  • Allow processing of absentee ballots two weeks prior to Election Day;
  • Prohibit deceptive election practices that deter or mislead voters;
  • Prohibit open carry of firearms within 100 feet of a voting location;
  • Mandate training standards for election challengers and election workers; and,
  • Require a statewide risk-limiting audit of election results prior to State certification rather than after the election.

As of this writing, 14 bills related to Michigan’s election laws have been introduced and hearings have already been scheduled to consider some of them.

Editor’s note: Mary Pollock is the Lansing SERA Chapter and SERA Council’s Legislative Representative. She may be contacted at 1200 Prescott Drive, East Lansing, MI 48823-2446; Phone 517-351-7292; E-mail michigansera@comcast.net.

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