WUOMFM

Donald Trump's concerned about voter fraud. Here's what Michigan volunteers can do.

Oct 20, 2016

At last night's Presidential debate, Donald Trump once again highlighted his concerns about voter fraud. 

When Trump was asked whether he would accept the election's results, he said, "I will look at it at the time. I'm not looking at anything now."

And Trump isn't the only one concerned about voter fraud. Michigan Republican Party Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel penned a fundraising letter where she mentions launch of an "anti-voter fraud effort," writes the Detroit News' Jonathan Oosting and Chad Livengood

One option Michigan Republicans suggest is for volunteers to signup to become a poll challenger.

But what can poll challengers do, and how necessary is the extra help to guard against fraudulent voters?

According to Secretary of State, election challengers have three rights:

  • Observe the election process in voting precincts and absent voter counting board precincts.
  • Challenge a person’s right to vote if the challenger has good reason to believe that the person is not eligible to vote in the precinct.
  • Challenge the actions of the election inspectors serving in the precinct if the challenger believes that election law is not being followed.

However, election challengers are limited in what they can challenge, according to Secretary of State’s Office spokesman Fred Woodhams.

"There are limits on what challenges can be done. They can't just be for a person's race or ethnicity,"
 he says. "The challenges are regarding a person's qualifications to vote, if they're old enough, if they're a resident of the jurisdiction in which they're voting."

If a challenge is within the criteria, the challenger must bring the concern to the precinct board's chairperson -- or the head poll worker. The questioned voter takes an oath and is questioned by the precinct chairperson regarding their qualifications.

If they're still found eligible after questioning, they vote under a "challenged ballot." If they're found ineligible, they don't vote. 

What happens if a challenger is using their privileges too excessively — challenging numerous people that are found eligible?

Woodhams adds that precinct workers — those working at a polling or electoral district — "have it in their authority to eject a challenger or a poll watcher who is being disruptive."

So, how necessary are poll challengers? 

"It’s worth noting that this is the third high-profile election this year so we have every reason to believe that precinct workers and clerks have significant experience heading into this Election Day," says Woodhams. "I'm not aware of any significant complaints from the March and August elections about voter fraud or voter intimidation. Millions of Michigan residents already have voted this year without a problem."

Michigan Republican Party Communications Director Sarah Anderson still believes the state needs volunteers to help. 

"Despite the best efforts of our fantastic Secretary of State and local clerks, there are incidents of voter fraud.  One occurrence of fraud is one too many," she says.