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Michigan Secretary of State

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A package of three bills (H.B. 4486, H.B. 4775, and H.B.

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson
Jocelyn Benson for Secretary of State

The passage of Proposal 3 last November means any registered voter in the state can now request an absentee ballot. It seems like Michigan residents are taking full advantage of that. 

Last week's election saw a huge uptick in the number of people who voted absentee. And that has put some county clerks in a time crunch as they work to count a flood of absentee ballots.

ballot
Emma Winowiecki / Michigan Radio

Michigan voters are free to take a picture of their ballot before they leave a voting booth.

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson has settled a 2016 lawsuit that challenged a ban on so-called ballot selfies. The ban on displaying completed ballots has been around since 1891.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan’s Secretary of State says it’s time to modernize her department’s 131 branch offices.

Jocelyn Benson spent the past few months visiting each office in all of Michigan’s 83 counties. 

She says she didn’t like what she saw.

“Too often people need to wait in line too long to have their business done with the Secretary of State’s office,” Benson told reporters at a news conference in Detroit Thursday. “It is unacceptable and it needs to change.”

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Local Secretary of State offices around Michigan and the department’s online services will be getting a major computer upgrade this weekend.

Jocelyn Benson
Benson for Secretary of State

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson plans to challenge a new law that could make it tougher to collect signatures to initiate legislation or ballot proposals.

Previously, organizers collected signatures by county with no limit on how many could be gathered.

The new law limits the number of signatures that organizers can collect from voters in any given congressional district.

Teacher standing and writing at a chalk board.
Unsplash

Today on Stateside, the executive director of the Michigan Association of School Superintendents and Administrators talks about how Michigan school districts are responding after a company that provides substitute teachers to more than 100 Michigan districts abruptly closed its offices. Plus, we hear from the Republican and Democratic candidates for Michigan’s next Secretary of State.

Listen to the full show above or find individual segments below. 

jocelyn benson and mary treder lang
Benson for Secretary of State / Mary Treder Lang for Secretary of State

In the state of Michigan, the Secretary of State oversees public notaries, vehicle registration and automotive licensing, and, perhaps most importantly, serves as the state’s chief elections officer. 

This November, Michiganders will vote to replace incumbent Ruth Johnson (R), who cannot run again due to term limits. Election security and how to best preserve the integrity of Michigan votes are key issues in this race. 

Photo courtesy of Trinea Gonczar

Today on Stateside, we hear the first episode of Believed. It's a podcast series produced by Michigan Radio and NPR that explores how former sports doctor Larry Nassar sexually abused patients for more than 20 years. Plus, an interview with the series’ co-hosts, Michigan Radio reporters Kate Wells and Lindsey Smith.

Listen to the full show above or find individual segments below. 

man driving a car
PxHere / Creative Commons

The Office of the Secretary of State says it expects long lines today as it eliminates driver responsibility fees.

The fees were a penalty in addition to tickets from driving infractions. Those fees could cost drivers upwards of $ 1,000 every year. Drivers who couldn’t pay had their licenses suspended.

Ballots
Flicker / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The state's voting system needs to be improved to ensure that overseas military ballots are received on time and counted, according to Jocelyn Benson, Democratic candidate for Michigan Secretary of State.

Benson unveiled her military voting plan Tuesday, as part of her pledge "to make it easier to vote and harder to cheat."

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Absentee ballots will start arriving in Michigan mailboxes in the next few weeks. One county clerk is predicting confusion.

Genesee County Clerk John Gleason says about half his county’s voters routinely use the straight party ticket option, but starting this fall that won’t be an option.

people in voting booths
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

 

There is just over a month to go before Michigan’s primary elections on August 7th. 

Judge's gavel with books
Pixabay.com

A panel of three judges ruled on Wednesday a gerrymandering lawsuit raised by members of Michigan’s League of Women Voters and several other Democrats will proceed.

The suit was filed in December against the Secretary of State Ruth Johnson, who is the chief election officer of the state. It challenges the congressional and state legislative maps, which the plaintiffs say unfairly benefit Republicans.   

The Secretary of State's office moved to have the case dismissed, saying there were no grounds for a statewide case.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

It may soon be easier to register to vote in Michigan.

Nine in ten people eligible to vote in Michigan are already registered. Most registered when they got a driver’s license or state identification card.

Nevertheless, Secretary of State Ruth Johnson wants to allow people to register to vote online through the state’s existing Express SOS software program.

AdeptDrivers / Creative Commons

Last week, Gov. Snyder signed legislation ending the state’s much-hated Driver Responsibility Fees (DRFs). 

A Michigan State Police file photo.
Michigan State Police

The state is appealing a federal court order that says it cannot suspend the driver’s licenses of people who don’t pay traffic fines.

The Michigan Secretary of State says it’s not possible to comply with the decision.

Michigan Sheriffs' Association

A federal judge has rejected an attempt to overturn her ruling that forbids the state from suspending driver’s licenses over traffic debt.

But the ruling doesn’t apply retroactively, so people who’ve already lost their licenses are out of luck for now.

U.S. District Judge Linda Parker ruled last week that suspending licenses over unpaid traffic debt violates due process rights, unless drivers get a court hearing to determine whether they actually can pay first.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan’s Secretary of State’s office has lost another round in court over suspending the driver’s licenses. 

The state wanted a delay on a ruling that blocked the state from suspending the driver’s licenses of motorists who are unable to pay their traffic fines.

U.S. District Judge Linda Parker issued a preliminary injunction on December 14.

wallet with Michigan license
Sabrina Io'Ana C. / Flickr - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCl0

 

 

Last night a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction barring the Michigan Secretary of State’s office from suspending the driver’s licenses of people unable to pay their traffic tickets and associated charges.

REAL ID driver's license
Michigan Secretary of State

Michigan is set today to start issuing driver's licenses that residents eventually will need to board domestic flights if they don't have passports or other accepted documents.

New ID standards were created after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Starting in October 2020, compliant driver's licenses or state IDs will be needed to fly or to visit federal buildings, nuclear plants and military bases unless other acceptable documents are provided.

Imagine a blind date without someone in the other chair. This week, we are on the political dating circuit, meeting some of Michigan’s statewide hopefuls who will not appear on next year’s August primary ballot.

We’re talking about ticket-building and why some candidates for statewide office aren’t waiting until after next year’s primaries to go public with their aspirations.

Stan Grot
Cheyna Roth / MPRN

There’s a new candidate for Michigan secretary of state.

Stan Grot announced he’s running today. He’s a Republican and current Shelby Township clerk. 

“He’s had integrity from the day one that I met him," said Jay Howse of Macomb County. "I’ve always had confidence in his decisions and I know he’ll be right.”            

One role of the Secretary of State is as the top elections officer.

Judge's gavel
Flickr user Joe Gratz / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

The state of Michigan is being sued in a bid to restore the driver's licenses of people who say they can't afford to pay traffic fines.

A lawsuit filed Thursday in federal court says the secretary of state is running a "wealth-based" scheme in which people too poor to pay fines are having their licenses suspended. The lawsuit says a traffic violation can cause a "downward spiral" of lost opportunities for jobs and education.

Courtesy: 1michigan.org

A computer outage has left customers with no ability to conduct transactions online or in person at Michigan Secretary of State offices.

State spokesman Fred Woodhams said officials got word of the issue shortly before offices opened at 9 a.m. Friday. He apologized for the inconvenience and said the state currently does not have an estimate of when service will be restored.

People use the website and branch offices to renew their vehicle registration, driver's license and to conduct other business.

An absentee ballot in an envelope.
Nadya Peek / FLICKR CREATIVE COMMONS HTTP://MICHRAD.IO/1LXRDJM

Lots of people have been surprised to learn that absentee voters in Michigan can change their ballots even if they've already cast them – as long as they do it by 4 p.m. on Monday.

"The old ballot will be voided," said Michigan Secretary of State spokesman Fred Woodhams. "It will not be counted."

Woodhams said absentee voters can request a re-do for any reason. But it's usually to correct a mistake, like voting for too many candidates or skipping portions of the ballot.

"This is really an uncommon thing," Woodhams said. "But it does happen from time to time."

State law specifically says people without photo IDs, can sign an affidavit - and still vote
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

There are 7,495,216 people registered to vote in Michigan in the 2016 presidential elections. That’s more than 40,000 more than were registered in the last presidential election, according the Secretary of State’s Office. There are more voters registered now than in 2008, the previous record.

The deadline to register to vote in the November election was last week.

Some of the biggest registration surges came from counties with a large college-age population; Washtenaw, Ingham, Isabella, Marquette, and Kalamazoo counties.

user jdurham / MorgueFile.com

According to data from the Michigan Secretary of State, 7,481,074 people statewide are registered to vote in the November election.

That’s a very slight uptick from the 2012 election cycle.

Nearly everyone of voting age in Michigan is registered to vote, due in large part to the state’s motor voter law. But not everyone votes. Only 63% cast ballots in the 2012 election.

Some local clerks kept their doors open late on Tuesday, which was the deadline to register.

user GPDII / http://michrad.io/1LXrdJM


It began with a concern raised by some Michigan companies: Some foreign visitors can’t drive with their foreign driver’s licenses, particularly those from China.

Could something be done in Lansing to clear the way for a Chinese executive visiting, say, Dow Chemical, to drive on his or her own?

The result was Senate Bill 501.

Marcie Casas

Update 2:30 p.m.: Judge Christopher Yates has ruled Hewlett-Packard must hand over the source code to Michigan.

Original post:

Michigan is squaring off with technology company Hewlett-Packard over source code for an unfinished computer system upgrade.

The state hired HP in 2005 to replace the Secretary of State's computer system. The $49 million project was supposed to be finished by 2010. 

Michigan terminated its contract with HP in August, on grounds that the company had missed deadlines and failed to deliver a complete project.

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