ABSENT VOTER BALLOT TRACKER†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† S.B. 339:

†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† SUMMARY OF INTRODUCED BILL

†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† IN COMMITTEE

 

 

 

 

 

 

Senate Bill 339 (as introduced 5-16-23)

Sponsor:† Senator Mallory McMorrow

Committee:† Elections and Ethics

 

Date Completed:† 5-16-23

 


CONTENT

 

The bill would amend Chapter 28 (Holding of Elections) of the Michigan Election Law to do the following, in accordance with Proposal 22-2 (see BACKGROUND):

 

--   Require the Secretary of State (SOS) to establish, acquire, or approve an electronic tracking system that allowed each elector who voted by absentee ballot to track his or her voter application or absent voter ballot through a website or mobile application.

--   Require the electronic tracking system to record certain dates and information, including, if an application or ballot was denied, a reason for the rejection, instructions on how to fix the issue, and the deadline for fixing the issue.

--   Allow an elector to opt into notifications from the electronic tracking system by email, text, or both.

 

The Law currently requires a city or township clerk, if that city or township has access to the ballot tracker program provided by the State, to use the ballot tracker program and allow electors to track their absent voter ballots online. Michiganís ballot tracker program records the following information:

 

--    Whether the electorís absent voter application has been received.

--    Whether the clerk has sent out the electorís absent voter ballot.

--    Whether the clerk has received the electorís absent voter ballot.

 

The bill would delete this requirement and replace it with the following provisions, in accordance with Proposal 22-2.

 

Electronic Tracking System

 

The bill would require the SOS to establish, acquire, or approve an electronic tracking system that allowed each elector who voted by absentee ballot to track, on a website or mobile application, his or her absent voter application and absent voter ballot.

 

The electronic tracking system would have to indicate the date a city or township clerk mailed or delivered the absent voter ballot to the elector, or, for an absent uniformed overseas or overseas voter, the date the uniformed services voter or overseas voterís city or township clerk mailed or electronically transmitted the absent voter ballot to the absent uniformed services voter or overseas voter. The system also would have to indicate whether an electorís absent voter ballot was returned to the city or township clerk as undeliverable.

 

The electronic tracking system would have to indicate the date an electorís city or township clerk received his or her absent voter ballot application and absent voter ballot return envelope containing the electorís completed ballot. Generally, if an elector is a member of a uniformed service on active duty or a member of the merchant marine, he or she may return his or her absent voter ballot electronically using a United States Department of Defense verified electronic signature. The electronic tracking system would have to record the date the eligible memberís absent voter ballot was electronically received.

 

If an absent voter ballot application or absent voter ballot return envelope was accepted, the electronic tracking system would have to indicate the date of acceptance. If an application or absent voter ballot return envelope was rejected, the system would have to include the following:

 

--    A brief statement of the reason for the rejection.

--    Instructions on fixing the issue with the electorís absent voter ballot application or voter ballot return envelope.

--    The deadline for fixing the issue.

 

If the elector fixed the issue with his or her absent voter application or absent voter ballot return envelope, and his or her application or absent voter ballot was accepted by his or her city or township clerk, the electronic tracking system would have to include an update that the electorís absent voter ballot application or absent voter ballot was accepted and list the date of acceptance. Additionally, for an absent voter ballot, the system would have to include a statement that the absent voter ballot was eligible to be tabulated.

 

System notifications

 

Under the bill, an elector would have to be permitted to opt in to receive notifications from the electronic tracking system by email, text message, or both. If an elector opted into these notifications, each time any of the above events occurred, the electronic tracking system would have to immediately notify the elector according to his or her communication preferences.

 

MCL 168.764c

 

BACKGROUND

In July 2022, Promote the Vote, a coalition of Michigan organizations active in elections, circulated a petition proposing several constitutional amendments concerning voting rights. Among other amendments, the petition included a requirement that the State fund a system that voters could use to track their absent voter applications and ballots and to receive notifications concerning the status of their applications, ballots, and any deficiency in their submissions.[1] Promote the Vote submitted the petition to the Michigan Bureau of Elections after gathering enough signatures for the ballot initiative that became Proposal 22-2. Proposal 22-2 passed with 59.99% of the vote during the 2022 November general election.[2]

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Legislative Analyst:† Abby Schneider

 

FISCAL IMPACT

 

The bill would have start-up and ongoing costs for the Department of State to implement and maintain a ballot tracking system for electors to track their absent voter ballots following submission to their city or township clerk. The Department has estimated initial start-


up/implementation costs at $450,000 for two FTEs, programming, and equipment costs over the two-year fiscal period of 2022-23 and 2023-24. Beginning in FY 2024-25 the ongoing costs would reduce to an estimated $140,000 annually and one FTE. The Senate Fiscal Agency estimates the average total annual cost of one FTE equivalent for FY 2022-23 at $142,000 consisting of salary, insurances, and retirement costs.

 

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Fiscal Analyst: Joe Carrasco, Jr.

This analysis was prepared by nonpartisan Senate staff for use by the Senate in its deliberations and does not constitute an official statement of legislative intent.

 



[1] "November 2022 Ballot Proposal 22-2," Senate Fiscal Agency.

[2] "2022 Michigan Election results," Elections, Michigan Department of State. Retrieved on 4- 11-23.