Jessica Mathews /

A local lawmaker’s plan to expand polling place locations has been signed into law by Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

State Representative Ann Bollin’s plan to help local communities that are struggling to find suitable locations to conduct elections is now law. Bollin serves as House Elections and Ethics Committee Chair. She said many schools and churches that previously served as polling locations are no longer able to host elections; and local clerks are finding it more difficult to secure enough polling places. She says her new law offers reasonable new options.

The Brighton Township Republican says elections must continue to take place, even when schools and churches are unavailable to serve as polling places. She says more and more frequently, local clerks have found themselves scrambling to find polling locations and it was time to make an adjustment within the law and give clerks access to more suitable options.

Currently, school buildings, fire stations, police stations and other publicly owned buildings must be used as polling locations. If it is not possible or convenient to use a publicly owned building, a township or city may opt to use a building owned by a nonprofit entity.

House Bill 6071 will expand the options beginning in 2023 to include public banquet centers or clubhouses, such as those at large apartment complexes or senior housing facilities, as long as the building is not owned by a candidate for office or someone who runs a political action committee.

The reform has long been a priority for Michigan’s municipal clerks, which is why Bollin says she worked hard to get the legislation across the finish line after Governor Whitmer vetoed a previous version of the legislation in House Bill 4492, lumping it in with a number of other measures the governor claimed would “suppress the vote.”

Bollin commented added that this is a common-sense solution that had bi-partisan support right from the start and it was not political or controversial.