House passes bipartisan bill for election challenger training

    Pro-Trump protest to stop the vote count outside the TCF Center in Detroit, Nov. 4, 2020 | Ken Coleman

    A GOP-sponsored bill requiring training for election challengers passed easily in the Michigan House on Thursday, a small spot of election policy bipartisanship in the state Legislature during fierce partisan debate around voting restriction bills.

    House Bill 4528 was adopted 105-4 in the House. The four members voting against it were state Reps. Matt Maddock (R-Milford), Ryan Berman (R-Commerce Twp.), Steve Carra (R-Three Rivers) and John Reilly (R-Oakland Twp.).

    During vote-counting operations at Detroit’s TCF Center for the Nov. 3 election, many GOP election challengers spoke out about what they incorrectly believed to be fraud and demanded that election workers “stop the count.”

    Afterwards, some clerks and election lawyers called for more training and said they believed the challengers did not understand enough about the process to differentiate between standard practice and fraud.

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    Many Republican state lawmakers continue to express distrust that the election was secure and without widespread voter fraud, despite a lack of evidence to prove this and numerous assurances from state election officials.

    With HB 4528, the Secretary of State and county clerks would need to offer “comprehensive” election challenger training for each political party before each primary, general and special election. The training would include processes and procedures on election day, the powers, rights and duties of election challengers, and training for both precinct polling places and absentee voter counting boards.

    The political party or organization seeking to designate challengers must also attend and complete election challenger training.

    A certificate of completion would be issued to those who complete the training and will be valid for 90 days after the date of issuance. Issuing a certificate to a challenger who did not complete the training would result in a fine of up to $2,500 for the political party or organization involved.

    Laina G. Stebbins covers the environment, Native issues and criminal justice for the Advance. A lifelong Michigander, she is a graduate of Michigan State University’s School of Journalism, where she served as Founding Editor of The Tab Michigan State and as a reporter for the Capital News Service. When Laina is not writing or spending time with her cats, she loves art and design, listening to music, playing piano, enjoying good food and being out in nature (especially Up North).