Thursday, February 9, 2023

Director dismisses E.L. voting problem rumors

November 17, 2000

Michigan’s elections director spoke at the state Capitol on Thursday dismissing rumors that likened voting problems in East Lansing to those in Florida .

Chris Thomas dispelled the accusations made minutes earlier by Democrats who accused Republicans of disenfranchising voters.

The press conferences came after newspapers around the state reported East Lansing students who had registered to vote were not allowed to cast ballots.

Voters angered by their inability to vote have raised doubts about the accuracy of close elections and spurred talk of recount requests. Congressional candidate Dianne Byrum, who lost to state Sen. Mike Rogers, R-Brighton, is considering such a recount.

“I think it’s nonsense to compare Michigan and Florida,” Thomas said. “In Florida you’re looking at a recount and issues of ballot printing. How you put that together as apples and apples is beyond me.”

Thomas said the purpose of his press conference was to put the facts about Michigan elections on the table.

As for correcting problems with student voters in East Lansing, Thomas said the problem is not related to the state’s Qualified Voter File, as some newspapers have reported.

“I don’t see reason for a revote in East Lansing,” he said. “I’m not certain what problems are in East Lansing, but I’m responding to reports by newspapers. It’s not a QVF problem - it’s a joint state and local problem.”

Some MSU students reported they were actually registered to vote in East Lansing, but their names didn’t appear on the Qualified Voter File. Thomas said that’s what affidavits are for.

But some students weren’t offered affidavits. Thomas said the secretary of state and the East Lansing city clerk would be looking in to why affidavits weren’t offered in every such instance and try to correct the problem.

“I don’t think we’ll have this problem next time around,” Thomas said.

But the Democrats aren’t so sure.

After Thomas’ question and answer period with the media, Mark Brewer had sharp words about the secretary of state’s office.

“What you just heard is a bunch of excuses,” said Brewer, chairman of the Michigan Democratic Party. “The secretary of state doesn’t want to take responsibility for anything that happened on Election Day.

“Candice Miller is the most partisan secretary of state Michigan’s ever had.”

Before Thomas spoke, Brewer said questions of a recount in Michigan force similarities to Florida to be drawn.

“Both the secretary of state and city clerk clearly were unprepared for the Senate bill which left students disenfranchised and tipped the results of the election,” he said.

Brewer claimed Miller had promised that Senate bill 306, requiring voters to be registered in the city listed on their driver’s license, would ease voting in the state, but the bill ended up doing the opposite.

State Rep. Lynne Martinez, D-Lansing, blamed Republican Congressman-elect Mike Rogers for passing the bill.

“Rogers also promised undercover or plainclothed police officers in precincts,” Martinez said. “That threat had a chilling effect on who showed up at the polls on Election Day.

“I hope the secretary of state will work with us on cleaning up these discrepancies.”

Amy Eisenberg, a biology junior, accompanied the Democrats to tell her voting story.

“I know I’m not the only one who went through this,” she said. “Voting is a big thing and lets your voice be heard. Students were pushed away.”

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