A series of Republican bills that would dramatically expand the rights of poll watchers and election challengers would burden election administrators, cause delays for voters at polling locations, open the door to voter intimidation and re-create the chaos that unfolded last fall at Detroit’s TCF Center in future elections, according to election officials and voting rights advocates.
Chris Thomas, who served as the Michigan director of elections for more than 30 years under Democratic and Republican secretaries of state, said the legislation introduced by Michigan’s Senate Republicans is seriously flawed.
“They are terrible bills that are really written without forethought as to the result and really are written to satisfy one party’s faction,” he said.
The GOP bills would significantly increase the number of challengers who can observe elections while eliminating nonpartisan challengers, allow poll watchers and challengers to film and photograph inside polling locations and counting rooms, and invite election monitors to challenge a voter’s ID, among other changes. Election officials and voting rights advocates warn that the changes would embolden challengers and embed partisan hostility and mistrust in the election process.