Victory! Democracy Wins Big in Michigan

The Michigan state capitol building surrounded by trees on a sunny fall day
The Michigan state capitol building in Lansing, Michigan. Photo by Steven Kriemadis

The freedom to vote and to make your voice heard is critical to the health of our democracy. Michigan’s legislature just took major steps forward to ensure its voters can have their voices heard and respected in future elections. 

This session, Michigan lawmakers have passed major pro-democracy bills to 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 comply with the new federal Electoral Count Reform Act of 2022 (ECRA) deadlines. It requires the governor to certify the results of a presidential 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. The slate of electors is the group of people who have pledged to submit the state’s chosen presidential and vice presidential candidates to Congress. 

The bill also provides important clarity around judicial procedures for recounts and other parts of the post-election process to ensure that the certification process isn’t delayed past the ECRA deadline and clarifies the duties of county and state boards of canvassers as purely ministerial — meaning they must certify the candidate who gets the most votes.  

Senate Bills 590 and 591 establish critical legal processes and clarify the circumstances for when a political candidate can challenge the results of an election. These bills provide important guidance for filing and decision deadlines while also protecting the post-election timeline against challenges that seek to undermine our democracy. 

House Bill 4129 protects election workers by establishing penalties for intimidating or preventing them from doing their job. It 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.  

Taken together, these commonsense, pro-democracy bills 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 lawmakers have provided needed clarity in the state’s post-election processes and helped ensure the state is prepared for the 2024 election.  

This is a positive step forward for our democracy, and for the state of Michigan and its voters. CLC hopes other states will follow Michigan’s example and make necessary legislative updates in advance of the 2024 election.

Catie is CLC's Senior Director, Policy & Strategic Partnerships.