Bollin proposes reforms for local elections

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State Rep. Ann Bollin

State Rep. Ann Bollin has introduced a plan to give local governments the flexibility needed to make their elections more efficient and effective.

Bollin, who served as the Brighton Township clerk for 16 years before becoming a state representative, said her plan will help elections run more smoothly following the reforms approved by voters through Proposal 3 of 2018.

“With the addition of no-reason absentee voting, local clerks have already experienced a significant increase in the number of people who are voting with an absentee ballot rather than going to a polling location,” Bollin said. “If you don’t have as many people voting in person, you don’t need as many poll workers or as much election equipment to accommodate them.”

Her plan would allow a local city and township to expand the size of its election precincts to account for the drop-off in the number of people voting in person.

Current law limits election precincts to 2,999 registered voters. Under House Bill 5032, precincts would be allowed to contain up to 5,000 registered voters.

Bollin’s legislation would also allow local governments to consolidate precincts in certain situations outside of the November general election. To consolidate precincts, the local governing body would have to approve a resolution.

“These reforms will give our communities the flexibility they need to make common sense adjustments in order to operate efficiently and effectively,” Bollin said.

Her plan would also expand the number of buildings available for local governments to designate as polling locations.

“Right now, local cities and townships have very limited options when it comes to selecting a suitable polling location,” Bollin said. “If the places where polling is allowed by law don’t want to host an election, it puts everyone in a very tough spot.”

Currently, school buildings, fire stations, police stations and other publicly owned buildings must be used as polling locations. If it is not possible or convenient to use a publicly owned building, a township or city may opt to use a building owned by a nonprofit entity.

House Bill 5031 would expand the options to include a privately-owned building, as long as it is not owned by a person who sponsors a political or independent committee.

The bills have been referred to the House Elections and Ethics Committee for consideration.

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