Victory! Gov. Whitmer Signs Pro-Democracy Bills Into Law in Michigan

Today, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan signed major pro-democracy bills into law that will help ensure the state is ready for the 2024 election. This includes four bills that CLC testified in support of and provided feedback for throughout the legislative process. Senate Bill 529 updates the state’s election laws to conform with the new Electoral Count Reform Act of 2022 (ECRA). Senate Bills 590 and 591 establish critical legal processes for when a political candidate could challenge the results of an election. House Bill 4129 protects election workers by establishing penalties for intimidating or preventing them from doing their job.   

Catherine Hinckley Kelley, senior director for policy and strategic partnerships at Campaign Legal Center, issued the following statement:  

“Taken together, the commonsense, pro-democracy bills signed into law today will not only protect the everyday Michiganders who run the state’s elections, but they will also prevent bad actors from undermining Michigan elections for their own personal gain.  

“CLC commends Michigan lawmakers for doing the hard work to update the state’s election laws in a way that truly safeguards future presidential elections. As we saw following the 2020 general election, the lack of clarity in Michigan’s previous election laws caused uncertainty and confusion among voters and within the courts. By enshrining these new bills into law, Michigan ensures legitimacy, fairness and transparency in its election processes. This is a good thing for our democracy, and for the state of Michigan and its voters. 

“Campaign Legal Center hopes other states will follow Michigan’s example and make necessary legislative updates in advance of the 2024 election.” 

More about the bills: 

SB 529 helps to conform Michigan law to meet the new federal Electoral Count Reform Act (ECRA) deadlines. It requires the governor to certify the results of the election within the specified timeline outlined by the ECRA and puts in place important security features on the certification to ensure that Michigan’s slate of electors can be verified as authentic. It provides important clarity around judicial procedures for recounts and other parts of the post-election process to ensure that the certification process isn’t jeopardized and clarifies the duties of county and state boards of canvassers as non-discretionary.  

SB 590 and SB 591 together establish a clear procedure for ensuring legitimacy, fairness and transparency in the state’s election contests. This bill provides important guidance for filing and decision deadlines, but also protects the post-election timeline against frivolous contests by requiring the aggrieved candidate to file a challenge only if they would have won had it not been for the error that occurred.  

HB 4129 creates a criminal penalty for threats and harassment against election officials in the state of Michigan — a vast improvement from the lack of protections afforded to administrators in past elections. This bill penalizes an individual for intimidating an election official with the intent of interfering with their official duties.