Jessica Mathews /

A local lawmaker’s plan to help communities in need of more options for polling places has cleared committee.

The House Elections and Ethics Committee recently approved a plan introduced by Republican State Representative Ann Bollin that aims to help local communities struggling to find suitable locations to conduct elections. She says the reform has long been a priority for Michigan’s municipal clerks.

Bollin, a former Brighton Township clerk, is sponsoring House Bill 6071 to expand their options.

She said when it comes to finding a suitable polling location that is accessible to voters, communities have very few options. Bollin said if they run into a situation where a school or a church can’t open its doors for an election, it puts clerks in a very challenging situation.

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 non-profit entity.

House Bill 6071 would expand the options to include a privately owned building such as a banquet center or a recreation clubhouse, as long as the building is not owned by a candidate for office or someone who runs a political action committee.

The measure received unanimous approval from the committee last week and advances to the full House for further consideration.