Michigan meets election reform requirements
October 17, 2002
Secretary of State Candice S. Miller said today that Michigan is already ahead of the curve in meeting the vast majority of election standards outlined in the Help America Vote Act now on its way to President Bush for his signature.
Secretary Miller and the Bureau of Elections assisted congressional officials in drafting portions of the new legislation. Secretary Miller noted that because of Michigan's strong election laws and procedures, Michigan did not experience significant problems in 2000, and that is why federal lawmakers looked to Michigan when considering new standards.
"As states move to adopt the national election standards, they will be looking to Michigan as a role model," Secretary Miller said. "When it comes to the elections process, there is no state that compares to Michigan. We're pleased to report that we have ‘been there and done that' when it comes to implementing many of the provisions in the legislation."
Among the federal election standards outlined in the legislation approved by Congress are the following:
Statewide voter registration databases: Michigan's Qualified Voter File served as the model for the congressional requirement that each state have a statewide voter registration file. The Qualified Voter File has been used by local clerks since 1998 and has been cited in several studies, including a report by the National Commission on Election Reform headed by former Presidents Ford and Carter.
Provisional ballots: Michigan's "Affidavit Ballot Provisions" allow persons whose names do not appear on a precinct poll list to cast a ballot if they sign an affidavit asserting that they were properly registered and provide documentation verifying their identity and residence.
Correcting ballot errors at the polling place: Currently 80 percent of Michigan's precincts use voting systems that provide voters with an opportunity to correct ballot errors (second-chance voting) or prevent voters from voting for more candidates than permitted by law. When the authorized funding in the new legislation is actually appropriated, Michigan will have the means to extend new voting systems that provide second-chance voting to all Michigan voters.
Voting machines for the disabled: Michigan currently requires a voting station for the disabled in every precinct. Michigan, like all other states, will be required to purchase new voting systems that permit disabled voters, including visually impaired, voters to cast a ballot without assistance. This technology has only recently become available.
Identification for first-time voters registering by mail: Michigan law has an anti-fraud provision that requires voters who register to vote by mail, to vote in person the first time they cast a ballot. By matching driver license numbers to mail-in voter registration applications, the state will properly identify most first-time voters in the state. This provision was suggested by the Bureau of Elections to use technology to streamline the identification of first-time voters.
Driver license numbers on voter registration applications: Michigan requires driver license or state identification card numbers on voter registration applications and assigns numbers to those registrants who have neither. Under the legislation, Michigan will be required to seek the last 4 digits of a voter's social security number, if the voter does not have a driver license or personal identification card.
Uniform definition of a "valid vote:" Michigan has statutory definitions of what constitutes a valid vote for each voting system used in the state.
The federal legislation calls for $3.9 billion to assist states and local governments to purchase new voting systems, train local election officials and precinct inspectors, educate voters, make polling places accessible and improve the administration of elections. Within this recommended funding is a provision for $325 million to reimburse states for replacing lever and punch card voting systems that were in place prior to January 1, 2001. The maximum reimbursement would be $4,000 per precinct.
Secretary Miller noted that not only are a majority of Michigan precincts already using voting systems other than punch card and lever machines, Michigan has passed Public Act 91 of 2002 that sets a process in place should the state want to use federal dollars to purchase a statewide uniform voting system.
Secretary Miller has advocated that Michigan adopt a uniform voting system and has recommended that it be an optical scan system.