The bureau gives money through Help America vote for the Law, which Congress passed in 2002 to provide clerks with additional funding. The announcement has come the same day a state court dismissed a lawsuit backed by Republicans seeking to prevent private companies from funding 450 Michigan clerks.
Ongoing disputes over private and public election funding arise at a time when there are sharp disagreements over the security of Michigan’s election law after the 2020 presidential election, when clerks were strained by absentee ballots, under close scrutiny amid unsubstantiated allegations. about voter fraud.
$ 8 million was provided in response to a letter sent in February by associations representing the state’s municipal and county clergy, asking for additional funding ahead of the 2022 election. The groups also asked lawmakers to adopt procedural changes.
Delta City Clerk Mary Clark, president of the Michigan Association of Municipal Clerks, said the federal grant allocates $ 1,500 for each site.
“It gives clerks a flow of funding to do some things they probably can’t do without it,” Clark told Michigan Bridge on Tuesday. “I’m going to put a new system of locks on the office door. It is very timely and well thought out. “
BOE Director Jonathan Brater said Tuesday on the House of Representatives’ Elections and Ethics Committee, hearing that grant funding is a one-time allocation based on temporary dollars.
“On an ongoing basis, a more reliable flow of public funding will help ensure that this security practice can continue in the years to come,” Brother said.
Local election officials complained that more resources were needed to process results efficiently and accurately. In 2020, many clerk offices in Michigan and elsewhere accepted grants from a charity affiliated with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to help pay for election expenses.
A state court on Tuesday dismissed a private funding lawsuit awarded to more than 450 Michigan clerks during the 2020 election, rejecting Republican claims that grants for pandemic elections were directed to democratic cities to unfairly boost liberal turnout.
The claims are “controversial” because privately funded grants from the Center for Technology and Civic Life, a nonprofit funded by Zuckerberg, “were available to all jurisdictions that sought them,” Michigan Claims Judge Thomas Cameron wrote in its a 10- page opinion.
Last year, the Michigan House of Representatives and the Senate passed a law banning the funding of private grants for future elections, as several other states have done. Democratic Gov. Whitmer has vetoed the bills.
Michigan Republicans are now trying to get around it Safe voting MI a petition that, among other changes, prohibits donations to fund elections.
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, both Democrats, on Tuesday noted the rejection of a private grant lawsuit, calling it a failed attempt to undermine confidence in the election process.
“This was unjustified and erroneous, and the court rightly noted the ability of non-partisan nonprofits to work directly with local communities to ensure they have the necessary support to defend and count every genuine vote,” Benson said in a statement. the need for the legislature and the federal government to ensure stable election funding so that state and political clerks have stable and sufficient resources to hold accessible and secure elections. ”
Additional funding from private and public grants is helpful, but Ingam County Clerk Barb Bayram told Bridge that he “does absolutely nothing to address the issues we’ve been raising for decades”.
County clerks will receive $ 150 for each precinct in their county through a federal grant announced Tuesday. Bayram said it intends to purchase software updates that will preserve unofficial online voting results on election night.
“It is unfortunate that the demands of election administrators regarding electoral reform have not been met,” Bayram said.
Clerks have asked lawmakers to postpone disagreements and carry out a series of electoral reforms, such as more time to pre-process absentee ballots, additional training and reasonable access for election candidates, and more time and funding to conduct post-election audits and remove the dead. voters from a qualified voting file.
In 2020, officials were given eight extra hours before election day to prepare absentee ballots for the vote count. The brother, the state election director, said the need for clerks in extra time varies depending on the population’s jurisdiction and specific electoral procedures.
He said he believes officials need more than eight hours to reap the benefits of pre-processing ballots.
“Although clerks valued time, it was something that was introduced relatively close to the election, so there wasn’t much time to incorporate that into their planning,” Brother said.