House clarifies Michigan ‘gag order’ law on clerks

By Rene Kiss
MI First Election

The state House approved House Bill 5219 on Feb. 23, which aims to fix a provision of a recently approved law that prohibits public bodies from distributing information 60 days before an election. The law, an amendment to Michigan’s Campaign Finance Act, was stopped by an injunction issued by U.S. District Court Judge John Corbett O’Meara on Feb. 5. Democrats and local government officials were critical of Senate Bill 571, not only for its content but for the manner in which it was approved through a late night-session in December when 12 pages were replaced with 53.

Michigan election equipment is worn out

By Ben Muir
MI First Election

Optical-scan tabulators — machines that tally election results — in Michigan are over a decade old. Local officials are seeking replacement of the machines, as concerns arise over the validity of the outdated equipment. “All 83 of the county clerks have been actively lobbying for new election equipment because our election computers are over 12 years old,” Barb Byrum, the clerk of Ingham County said. “No one owns a cellphone that’s more than three years old, let alone a computer over 12 years.” The Ingham County Clerk’s Office has been requesting updated equipment for ‘at least’ three years, Byrum says.

Voting online still too vulnerable

By Ben Muir
MI First Election

Launching a campaign that would allow voters to cast ballots online is a convenient and simple thought. But considering the idiosyncrasies of each person’s vote, the inability to verify each online voter, and lack of security, an online election is too much of a threat to democracy, experts say. The technology of the 21st century has made it so virtually any daily chore can be completed from a desktop, tablet or smartphone. Marie Wicks is the East Lansing City Clerk, Freedom of Information Act Coordinator, and proponent of voting online.  Wicks said an online election would expand political reach and inspire youth.