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Michigan Senate advances election bills

Michigan Capitol building in Lansing, including a tree.
Emma Winowiecki
Michigan Radio
The Michigan Capitol building in Lansing.

The Michigan Senate voted Thursday to pass a slew of election-related bills.

Four of the bills originated in the state House of Representatives while one came from the Senate.

Among other things, they detail which buildings can serve as polling locations, limit who can see the qualified voter file, and require certain training for both poll workers and those wishing to challenge an election.

State Senator Ruth Johnson (R-Holly) is the lead sponsor of a bill that would change how long the Board of State Canvassers has to complete its work after a petition is filed.

“The Department of State, the Secretary of State—it shouldn’t take them longer to review than it takes for people to collect signatures. This is something that’s supported by people and organizations on both sides of the aisle,” Johnson said.

Johnson’s bill would require the board to complete the canvass of an initiative within 100 days after its filing—and to immediately forward a certified petition to the Legislature.

Thursday’s vote comes as a high-profile petition initiative to tighten Michigan’s voter ID laws is starting the signature-gathering process.

Meanwhile, Senate Democrats are taking issue with a bill that would keep election machines from being connected to the internet during polling hours.

Democratic state Senator Jeremy Moss said the machines already are not hooked up to the internet.

“Never have been and never will be. And I have been at this mic many times before to speak against bills that would make something illegal that nobody is doing anyway,” Moss said from the Senate floor.

Critics have accused the bill of promoting conspiracy theories.

“This is (sic) just good, solid bills that are already practices, already being used,” Johnson disagreed.

The bills all passed the Senate nearly along party lines. That’s after some received bipartisan support in the House.