This op-ed by State Rep. Ann Bollin first appeared in the Detroit News on Jan. 17, 2021
During both my time as a township clerk and state representative, I have always been adamant about one important principle: Election integrity. And running elections with the highest level of integrity must always be a priority.
This past election cycle left voters with questions and concerns about our election process, how this election was handled and how future elections could be impacted.
Thousands of Michigan voters have spoken out about feeling disenfranchised. We must work together to ensure that proper checks and balances are in place to ensure every eligible vote counts, and if our laws are not followed then people need to be held accountable. We must do everything we can to restore the public’s trust in our elections. Our local clerks worked through extraordinary circumstances, ever-changing directions from the Bureau of Elections, and a mass of misinformation to deliver fair elections in 2020.
While the election may be behind us it is important to continue a thorough review and update our laws to ensure best practices are in statute and people are confident that their vote counts.
We must work together to ensure voters, candidates, and clerks have confidence in our elections from beginning to end. I am confident we can improve on our existing laws and provide the public with the necessary checks and balances so that they know their vote counted. That will be my top priority this term. Here are some of the areas that I think need reform to restore the public’s confidence:
- Accurate voter rolls. We must make sure our election officials are doing a better job updating the Qualified Voter File and maintaining accurate voter rolls.
- Same-day registration. This practice was added just recently after voters approved Proposal 3 of 2018. While the concept is widely supported, we always knew the implementation would take some work. We must focus on working out the flaws in this system and putting best practices into state law to ensure clarity and consistency for voters across the state.
- Absent voter counting boards. The new focus on absentee voting has made counting boards more important than ever before. We must set clearer rules for how these boards operate and how we can ensure the process is transparent and election laws are followed.
- Processing absentee ballots. We must closely examine how and when absentee ballots are pre-processed and counted, and what tools we can give our clerks to smooth out the process without risking the security of our elections or the sanctity of our votes.
- Training for election workers and volunteers. Providing improved training standards for clerks, election workers, poll watchers and canvassers must be a priority, and could help prevent confrontations like those seen at the TCF Center this past election.
- Accountability. If the laws are not followed or there is fraud, the bad actors must be held accountable.
- Post–election audits. We must ensure the public can have confidence that our elections are run within the law and the results are accurate.
In the 16 years I spent as a local township clerk, I worked relentlessly to ensure I ran clean elections. I will continue to be an advocate for checks and balances in our election laws and a strong voice for election integrity. I am committed to bringing an end to the disenfranchisement to ensure every eligible voter can vote freely, secretly, independently and securely and fixing the problems exposed by this past election cycle.
State Rep. Ann Bollin, chair of the House Elections and Ethics Committee for the 2021-22 legislative term, represents southeast Livingston County in the Michigan House. She previously served for 16 years as Brighton Township Clerk.