By State Rep. Joseph Fox, of Fremont
On Wednesday, the House passed Senate Bill 259 – a bill to expand absent voter ballot tabulation for Americans that are out-of-country – despite every Republican House member voting ‘no’. SB 259 attempts to bring Michigan election law in line with the provisions made in Proposal 2, which became part of Michigan’s Constitution after it passed last year. Among many items, Proposal 2 permits absent voter ballots that are sent in from military members or citizens living overseas to be counted under two conditions: if they are received by the local clerk within six days of the election, and if they are postmarked by election day.
Proposal 2 only allows the absent voter ballot to be counted if it receives a postmark, meaning that the envelope containing the ballot must have some official marking from a postal service. However, SB 259 goes much further than the new Constitutional language. Although the bill maintains the same requirement that absent voter ballots must be received by the clerk within six days of the election, it adds that absent voter ballots must be counted even if ballots have missing postmarks. The envelope need only reach the clerk; it does not even need to have proper postage under this bill.
In this way, the bill goes beyond Proposal 2 and expands Michigan elections law beyond the scope of what is required under the state Constitution. The passage of Proposal 2 pushed our state down a slippery slope toward an increase in fraudulent election vulnerability – nine days of early voting, and six days of post-election absent voter ballot tabulation. With SB 259, Michigan moves even further away from secure elections. Lansing Democrats are unnecessarily going beyond the bounds of what the voters approved in Proposal 2. Michigan residents must have peace of mind about the security of the electoral processes that have existed in our country for nearly two hundred and fifty years. While we still have reliably free and fair elections, this bill works against that. I will continue to uphold the integrity of our elections in every way, and oppose bills that erode the reliability of our crucial democratic processes.
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