Rep. Sharon Tyler: Protect key to democracyPublished 11:48pm Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Secure and fair elections are essential to democracy. That is why I am joining Secretary of State Ruth Johnson and others in the Legislature by supporting stronger campaign finance laws, new policies and expanding our use of technology to help ensure integrity in Michigan’s election process.
Many of these changes are based on input from our local clerks. I’ve spoken with both constituents and clerks back in our district, and they say there is strong support for these necessary, common-sense reforms to ensure secure and fair elections.
These are the people who are responsible for making sure your local elections run as smoothly and as error-free as possible. Local clerks want to do the best job they can, and it is the Legislature and Secretary of State’s responsibility to give them the tools and resources they need.
I am currently sponsoring several pieces of legislation in two different packages designed to give residents the information they need to feel confident when they head to the polls or have a proposal they want to bring forward. They will also give local clerks the resources they need to guarantee clean and legal elections.
The first two bills are part of the Secretary of State’s Secure and Fair Elections package, or SAFE Initiative, that provide tools and resources to help increase transparency surrounding new political parties. I am proud to sponsor legislation that will require more —and earlier — reporting for new political parties so we can shed light on who is financing these efforts.
This transparency is important because as voters carefully consider casting their votes they deserve to know the facts about who supported placing the questions on the ballot in front of them.
I am also sponsoring legislation as part of this package that will improve the process for submitting a ballot question by removing the risk circulators face if the question is formatted incorrectly. If the format is incorrect, then the signatures collected will no longer be valid.
This will ensure petitions comply with election law before they are circulated.
The second set of bills which I have helped coordinate are needed reforms to assist local clerks.
This bill package would change the filing deadline for local ballot questions from 70 days to “4 p.m. on the 12th Tuesday before the election.” This change mirrors the filing deadline for candidates found in Michigan Election Law.
By consolidating filing deadlines for candidates and local ballot questions, we can move the filing deadline for local ballot questions back from the printing deadline, making it easier for clerks to get the information in properly and on time.
Both sets of bills provide tools to make our elections even more fair by closing loopholes and requiring more transparency and accountability.
Michigan residents can be confident their votes truly count, but there is always room to improve the system. Clean, secure and efficient elections are of critical importance to the health of our democracy.