Advance Notice: Briefs

SOS forms panel to enact Proposal 3, update election procedures

By: - February 22, 2019 11:21 am

Susan J. Demas

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson this week announced a new Election Modernization Advisory Committee. The panel will advise her administration and the Bureau of Elections on implementing Proposal 3 of 2018 and other election reforms.

On Thursday, Benson held a press conference in Flint Township heralding one aspect of Proposal 3: the start of no-reason, mail-in voting in Michigan. Other election changes approved by voters in the initiative include straight-ticket voting, same-day voting registration and automatic voter registration.

Jocelyn Benson at a press conference in Flint, Feb. 21, 2019 | Ken Coleman

“The results of last November’s election are clear: Michigan voters want to make it easier to vote and harder to cheat,” Benson said.

She added that the panel will help the state with “modernizing our elections, applying best practices and making Michigan a national model for clean, efficient and secure elections.”

In the Lame Duck session last year, the GOP-led Legislature passed one change to Proposal 3 on same-day voter registration. Under the law, voters can only do that at a county clerk’s main office, rather than at polling locations or satellite clerk’s offices, as many other states allow.

The committee also will advise on poll worker recruitment training and online voter registration, which the Legislature passed last year.

Chris Thomas

Benson named former Michigan Director of Elections Chris Thomas to lead the advisory committee. Other members include local clerks, Michigan-based voting rights advocates, and local and national election experts:

  • Tripp Adams, Michigan chapter lead for the Truman National Security Project, an advocacy organization for national security solutions; chief operating officer of Rochester Hills-based Emagine Entertainment; and a lawyer.
  • Jackie Beaudry, Ann Arbor city clerk
  • David Becker, executive director and founder of the nonprofit Center for Election Innovation & Research in Washington, D.C.; former director of the elections program at The Pew Charitable Trusts and former senior trial attorney in the Voting Section of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division.
  • Mary Clark, Delta Township clerk.
  • Sharon Dolente, voting rights strategist with the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan and an attorney.
  • Martha Gonzalez-Cortes, vice president of community investment at the Kalamazoo Community Foundation, former community relations director for the Michigan Department of Civil Rights and former state director of the Office of Migrant Affairs.
  • Rachel Huddleston, publications/communications associate for Michigan Protection & Advocacy Service Inc. in Lansing.
  • Elizabeth Hundley, attorney and Livingston County clerk.
  • Mary Kotowski, St. Clair Shores city clerk and former election director for Macomb County.
  • Benjamin Marentette, Traverse City clerk.
  • Amber McReynolds, executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based National Vote at Home Institute.
  • Tammy Patrick, senior advisor to the elections program at the Democracy Fund in Washington, D.C., and a former member of the Presidential Commission on Election Administration.Whitney Quesenbery, co-director of the Center for Civic Design in Cambridge, Md., and a former member of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission’s advisory committee for voting system standards.
  • Justin Roebuck, Ottawa County clerk and register of deeds.
  • Joe Rozell, Oakland County director of elections.
(left to right): Justin Roebuck, Janice Winfrey and Chris Swope

  • Matt Singer, partner at Washington, D.C.-based Impactual, implementation lead for the Center for Secure and Modern Elections, and founder of National Voter Registration Day.
  • Khalilah Spencer, equity and social responsibility partner at Honigman, LLC in Detroit; legal redress chair of the Michigan State NAACP and former vice chair of Promote the Vote.
  • Julia Stonestreet, Spring Arbor Township clerk.
  • Chris Swope, Lansing city clerk.
  • Natalie Tennant, manager of state advocacy on the Brennan Center for Justice’s Voting Rights and Elections project in Washington, D.C., and former West Virginia secretary of state.
  • Robin Troyer, Sault Ste. Marie deputy city manager and former city clerk.
  • Nancy A. Waters, Muskegon County clerk and a former Muskegon County commissioner.
  • Matthew Weil, senior associate director of the Democracy Project at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, D.C., and formerly with the U.S. Election Assistance Commission and the AEI-Brookings Election Reform Project.
  • Janice Winfrey, Detroit city clerk.

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Ken Coleman
Ken Coleman

Ken Coleman covers Southeast Michigan, economic justice and civil rights. He is a former Michigan Chronicle senior editor and served as the American Black Journal segment host on Detroit Public Television. He has written and published four books on black life in Detroit, including Soul on Air: Blacks Who Helped to Define Radio in Detroit and Forever Young: A Coleman Reader. His work has been cited by the Detroit News, Detroit Free Press, History Channel and CNN. Additionally, he was an essayist for the award-winning book, Detroit 1967: Origins, Impacts, Legacies. Ken has served as a spokesperson for the Michigan Democratic Party, Detroit Public Schools, U.S. Sen. Gary Peters and U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence. Previously to joining the Advance, he worked for the Detroit Federation of Teachers as a communications specialist. He is a Historical Society of Michigan trustee and a Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Detroit advisory board member.