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House bill would permanently block convicted tamperers from election jobs

Jodi Westrick
Michigan Public

A state House committee held its first hearing Tuesday on a bill to permanently bar people convicted of many election-related crimes from serving on boards that certify election results.

The bill lists a wide variety of state or federal election fraud, illegal influence or voter threat convictions that would disqualify a person from serving on the Michigan State Board of Canvassers or county canvassing boards that confirm vote tallies. That function has become the target of efforts to reverse election results.

“Individuals who have shown a willingness to violate Michigan election law have no business overseeing our state elections, let alone certifying results,” said bill sponsor Representative Noah Arbit (D-West Bloomfield). “Period. End of story.”

The crimes include offering bribes for votes, intimidation or obstructing voters, absentee ballot fraud, illegally breaking open a ballot lock or seal, and altering a ballot.

Republican Rep. Jay DeBoyer (R-Clay), who suits on the House Elections Committee, said he agrees with the intent of keeping bad actors off canvassing boards, but thinks the lifetime ban might be too harsh.

DeBoyer said lifetime bans for misdemeanor or felony election violations would be tougher than the 20-year ban in the Michigan Constitution on a felon holding an elected or appointed office.

“When we say forever, I think we’d be very careful with what we’re doing when we say that,” he said. “And right now, this is a forever, it’s a forever ban. So, I think that should be discussed and considered at least.”

DeBoyer said he would be a “no” vote on the bill as currently drafted. The elections committee could hold a vote to send the bill to the House floor as soon as next week.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.