Election, campaign finance reforms sent to governor

LANSING – Reforms to strengthen campaign finance laws, improve election efficiency and ensure fairness and accountability in elections are on their way to the governor to be signed, said sponsor Sen. Darwin Booher.

“Free, open and fair elections are the cornerstone of our American system of government, making it crucial that we ensure Michigan’s elections are not open to fraud and abuse,” said Booher, R-Evart. “These reforms will uphold and enhance the integrity of the entire democratic process in Michigan by protecting voter rights, putting an end to cheating and severely punishing anyone who is caught violating our election and campaign finance laws.”

Senate Bills 751-754 and 803 and House Bills 5058-5062 focus on increasing penalties for campaign finance violations and reducing voter fraud. SBs 823-825 reform the state’s campaign finance law as well as increase the protections of voter rights, provide additional transparency and streamline the election process.

Booher’s bill, SB 803, requires registered voters to sign a form indicating they are U.S. citizens prior to voting in person or by an absentee voter ballot. A person refusing or failing to answer the citizenship question at the polls would be denied a ballot. Absentee voters would be issued ballots, which would not be counted unless the voter answers the question by Election Day.

“State officials have discovered noncitizens inadvertently being registered to vote when they applied for other items, such as a driver’s license,” Booher said. “Asking if someone is a citizen before handing them a ballot will help ensure that only U.S. citizens vote in our election.”

Legislation in the 12-bill package would also:

• Crack down on voter registration fraud by adding identification requirements and training for third-party registration groups;
• Increase filing requirements for new political parties and ballot question committees;
• Require the secretary of state to post the most recent ballot petition language online; and
• Create a misdemeanor if an individual solicits or receives compensation to support or oppose a candidate, political committee or political party.

“Events during the past few years have shown the potential for fraud in elections,” Booher said. “From attempting to create a fake Tea Party in Michigan to turning in voter registrations for Mickey Mouse and the Dallas Cowboy starting lineup in Nevada, political dirty tricks erode the integrity of our democratic system and must be stopped.”