LANSING, Mich. (MIRS News) – The Secretary of State would be charged with creating an online ballot tracking system for absentee voters under a Rep. Dylan Wegela (D-Garden City) bill that is designed to bring Michigan into compliance with Proposal 2 of 2022.
Wegela’s HB 4594 brings the state into compliance by creating an electronic absentee ballot tracking system that can tell a voter the date their absentee ballot application was received by a city or township clerk, the date of acceptance or reason for rejection, instructions for correcting a rejected application and updates on the status of a fixed issue.
The system would also notify uniformed service or overseas voters when their absentee ballot was mailed, or if it was returned as undeliverable.
When voters turned in their absentee ballot, the system would notify when it was received, either by mail or electronically, along with another acceptance or rejection.
Voters would be required to opt in to receive notifications by email, text message or both.
Wegela said the bill will increase voter trust in the election process.
“By empowering voters with the ability to track their applications and ballots online, Michiganders will be able to identify and correct any mistakes they may have made much easier,” he said. “This legislation will provide voters with another tool to participate fully in our democracy.”
The bill was introduced on Wednesday, and was referred to the House Elections Committee.
Wegela said he introduced the bill in an effort to enhance transparency and accessibility within Michigan’s elections, something Michigan voters showed their support for during the November 2022 election.
Proposal 2, one of three successful ballot initiatives, includes language that the state is mandated to establish and allocate funds for a system to track submitted absentee voter applications and ballots.
Wegela’s bill was supported by House Elections Committee Chair Penelope Tsernoglou (D-East Lansing), who said it will allow citizens to “closely follow the progress of their absent voter application and ballot.”
Other elements of Proposal 2, including the nine days of early voting, have been cause for discussion between state government and clerks when it comes to providing enough funding in the upcoming budget for municipalities to fund their elections.
Ingham County Clerk Barb Byrum said the Michigan Association of County Clerks did not take a formal position on this bill because county clerks would not be the ones tasked with tracking ballots.
That would fall to municipal clerks, she said.
Delhi Charter Township Clerk Evan Hope said that in the case of his township, they already have a ballot tracking system that voters can use, meaning the change wouldn’t cause new burdens for his township.
The system he has in place records when an application is received and when a ballot is mailed out.
Hope said he also tries to collect as many emails as possible during the process of absentee ballot applications so he can notify voters quickly about the status of their ballot.