State Rep. Steve Carra today introduced a plan to strengthen the rights of Michigan election challengers and expand training for election officials and inspectors.
Election challengers are appointed by political parties and other interested organizations to observe Michigan election processes and ensure election laws are properly followed at polling places and absentee counting boards.
“Election challengers do important work to safeguard our elections,” said Carra, of Three Rivers. “This plan will support challengers as they seek to ensure Michigan elections are conducted properly, legally and accurately.”
Carra’s House Bill 4963 would specify that training for election officials and inspectors, or workers, must include training on the rights of election challengers, and local clerks would be required to have signature verification training.
“Proper signature verification training will help clerks protect the right to vote, and training on the rights of election challengers will increase cooperation between the officials, inspectors and challengers as they administer and observe our election processes,” Carra said.
The plan would strengthen challengers’ rights and responsibilities by ensuring each challenger can stand or sit behind the processing table. When observing election processes, challengers would have to provide reasonable space for the inspectors to perform their duties; challengers would be permitted to challenge the manner in which duties are performed. The challengers would be allowed to use a phone, computer or other device, provided that the use of the device does not interfere with a voter’s right to a secret ballot.
Carra’s plan would require any alleged infringement of a challenger’s rights to be recorded in the log and reported to the local clerk. A challenger who is expelled from a polling place or counting board could require the election workers to provide a written explanation for the expulsion, and a political party would be entitled to appoint a replacement for an expelled challenger.
Carra filed a lawsuit against Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson in October 2020, which successfully resulted in a settlement affirming the rights of poll challengers to perform challenging duties as necessary within six feet of election workers.
HB 4963 is part of a broader plan to secure and increase confidence in Michigan elections. The bills were referred to the House Committee on Elections and Ethics for consideration.
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