State Rep. Rick Outman and Montcalm County Clerk Kristen Millard testified on Tuesday in support of a bill introduced by Outman that would allow election workers to oversee balloting in neighboring counties.
Outman’s measure, House Bill 5119, would allow qualified precinct election inspectors to work in counties other than the one in which they are registered to vote. That is not allowed under current law.
“This bill will ensure that local governments can provide fair and efficient elections. It will make it easier to ensure we have ample poll workers,” Outman, R-Six Lakes, told members of the House Redistricting and Elections Committee. “This bill would change the requirement that the worker be an in-county resident and make it so that the worker would only have to be a qualified poll inspector who is registered to vote in Michigan.”
Millard testified that the bill will most benefit rural areas, such as Montcalm County, where the pool of trained and qualified poll workers is limited.
“It is important to have qualified poll workers, and in very rural areas we would be able to hire poll workers from other counties,” she said. “Poll workers cannot be spouses or other family members of candidates, so this bill would allow clerks and deputy clerks from other counties to oversee rural elections. Also, during recall elections, it can be difficult to find impartial poll workers in rural areas. I strongly encourage you to pass this bill.”
Millard said poll workers are required to undergo training by municipal governments and must be certified by county clerks every two years.
Election officials attempt to hire an equal number of poll workers from the two major political parties to guarantee a fair process. Often that can be difficult in rural areas.
The measure has gained the support of several clerks’ organizations and the Michigan Secretary of State’s Office.