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Michigan SOS recommendations to strengthen elections system

 

Five-point plan seeks to eliminate voter fraud vulnerabilities in states

N-VotingSecretary of State Ruth Johnson has sent a list of recommendations on strengthening the integrity of the elections system to Vice President Mike Pence and Michigan’s congressional delegation asking that the federal government provide state and local officials with the tools they need to ensure election integrity.

Pence is expected to head a special commission to investigate election issues.

“I believe the most critical parts of election administration are getting eligible citizens registered to vote and ensuring that only those individuals who are eligible to vote appear on the voter rolls,” Johnson said in her letter to Pence. “The United States as a whole must strive for the cleanest voter lists to eliminate vulnerabilities to voter fraud. To allow an ineligible person to cast a ballot is to disenfranchise an eligible citizen.”

Johnson has made election integrity and the accuracy of Michigan’s Qualified Voter File a top priority since she took office in 2011. Her department has removed 1.1 million ineligible people from the voter rolls, including 482,427 deceased voters, 104,126 who were registered in two states and 3,359 noncitizens. Her office also has performed 1,400 post-election audits and sends out a reminder to Michigan residents when they turn 18 years old and asks people who aren’t registered when they visit a Secretary of State office. Michigan has been named the top state for registering people to vote at motor-vehicle offices.

Her five recommendations:

Make Social Security Administration data available – The federal government should help states remove the names of deceased voters from the voter rolls. The Social Security Administration holds this data and it should be made available at no cost to all state election officials and updated at least once per month.

Remove those registered in more than one state – Congress, with the support of the administration, needs to pass a law that allows a voter to be efficiently removed at state motor vehicle offices from the voting rolls if that voter registers in their new state of residence. There is no process, system or law to prevent people from being registered in more than one state. This needs to be an automated system for all states. Former Congresswoman Candice Miller worked hard on a bill that would have accomplished this but it never passed.

Share noncitizen info – The federal government should allow states to verify noncitizens are not on the voter rolls. For years, the federal government required motor-vehicle agency clerks to ask customers—without regard to their citizenship—if they would like to register to vote. As a consequence, many noncitizens registered in error. Johnson met with Homeland Security officials in 2012 and asked for assistance in removing noncitizens from the voter list but never heard back or received any information or cooperation despite numerous attempts.

Create an election crime database – A comprehensive, national database or repository of election-related crimes needs to be created by the administration or Congress with the participation of all states. It would be invaluable to have a federal repository of election crimes categorized with information easily retrieved to help quantify and qualify problems. This will help identify vulnerabilities and fix them.

Require a voting paper trail – Voting machines or tabulators across the U.S. should be required to have some form of a verifiable paper trail that allows officials and citizens to review the results instead of having to blindly trust electronic devices. Voting machines or tabulators that don’t provide election officials with a paper record do not instill confidence in our elections systems and lack the accountability needed. Additionally, voting machines should not be connected to the internet.

A copy of Secretary Johnson’s letter to Vice President Pence is available online at http://www.michigan.gov/documents/sos/Letter_to_Vice_President_Pence_551502_7.pdf.

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