ERN and Partners Help Pass Key Michigan Bill to Protect Presidential Elections

November 30, 2023
Election Reformers Network

State Lawmakers Show Common-Sense Leadership on Important Reforms

Today Michigan became the eighth state, and the second swing state, to pass legislation bringing its laws into compliance with the time-frames and procedures established by the historic Electoral Count Reform Act (ECRA). Congress passed ECRA in December 2022 with bipartisan support to fix the flaws and ambiguities that contributed to the January 6 riots.

Michigan’s newly passed law makes a range of important reforms. Some changes follow directly from the federal law, for example moving the date of the meeting of electors to align with the national timeline. Other changes take on a broader challenge of reconfiguring the post-election period to meet the new federal deadline while ensuring enough time for any recounts and legal challenges. To minimize any chance of ambiguity, the bill sets procedures for even highly unlikely scenarios like a change of winners from a recount.Importantly, the bill emphasizes that state and county canvassing boards have a purely ministerial, non-discretionary role.

“Congress based the federal reform on two key ideas, removing ambiguity and prioritizing the role of courts to resolve election disputes,” said ERN Senior Counsel Mike Parsons. “When the bill is signed, Michigan will become an exemplary state-level reflection of these same principles.”

Election Reformers Network began work supporting ECRA compliance in Michigan early in 2023. The ERN team issued a report laying out reforms the state should consider and discussed reform ideas with legislators during in-person meetings in January. ERN team members also provided suggestions and commentary on multiple drafts of the bill, and testified in support of the bill before Elections Committees in the Michigan House and Senate. Much of this work was done in coalition with state and national partner organizations.

At the federal level, ERN advocated for electoral count reform almost as soon as the idea was first raised in the Senate in early 2022, reflecting ERN’s core commitment to reducing the risk of partisan manipulation of results. ERN’s state-level work has included: the publication of multiple reports to guide legislators; hosting or speaking at events on ECRA for election officials, legislators, and member of Congress; and reviewing bill drafts in multiple states.

“The federal ECRA law was the kind of a major bipartisan success story we need in this time of deep concern about the status of our democracy,” said ERN Executive Director Kevin Johnson. “The Michigan legislature has done exemplary work translating this success to the Michigan context. We are proud to have been able to lend a hand along with our coalition partners, and we look forward to more successes in the states ahead.”