SENATE BILL NO. 401
A bill to create a state voting rights act; to provide for the powers and duties of certain state and local governmental officers and entities; to provide for a court-appointed monitor under certain circumstances; to create a fund; to prohibit certain discriminatory activity and to prescribe civil sanctions; and to provide remedies.
the people of the state of michigan enact:
Sec. 2. In recognition of the protections for the right to vote provided by the state constitution of 1963, and in conjunction with the constitutional guarantees of equal protection and the freedoms of speech, assembly, consultation, instruction, and petition under the law and against the denial and abridgement of the voting rights of members of a racial, color, or language minority group, it is the public policy of this state to do all of the following:
(a) Encourage participation in the elective franchise by all eligible electors to the maximum extent.
(b) Ensure that eligible electors who are members of a racial, color, or language minority group have an equal opportunity to participate in the political processes of this state and to exercise the elective franchise.
(a) "Alternative method of election" means a method of electing candidates to the legislative body of a local government other than an at-large method of election or a district-based method of election and includes, but is not limited to, proportional ranked-choice voting, cumulative voting, limited voting, or hybrid voting systems that incorporate aspects of at-large and district-based methods of election.
(b) "At-large method of election" means a method of electing candidates to the legislative body of a local government in which candidates are voted on by all electors of the local government. At-large method of election does not include any alternative method of election.
(c) "Disparity" means any statistically significant variance that is not de minimis and is supported by validated methodologies.
(d) "District-based method of election" means a method of electing candidates to the legislative body of a local government in which, for local governments divided into districts, a candidate for any district is required to reside in the district and candidates representing or seeking to represent the district are voted on by only the electors of the district.
(e) "Federal voting rights act" means the federal voting rights act of 1965, 52 USC 10301 to 10314, 10501 to 10508, and 10701 to 10702.
(f) "Local government" means a county, city, township, or any other political subdivision of this state that conducts an election.
(g) "Protected class" means individuals of a racial, color, or language minority group, as that term is defined under the federal voting rights act, and includes groups whose members have been subject to protection under a consent decree ordered by a federal court in a suit alleging a violation of section 2 of the federal voting rights act, 52 USC 10302, and individuals who are members of a racial category that has been officially recognized by the United States Census Bureau.
(h) "Racially polarized voting" means voting in which the candidate or electoral choice preferred by protected class members diverges from the candidate or electoral choice preferred by other electors.
(i) "Voting eligible population" and "eligible electors" mean those individuals who are eligible to register and vote, regardless of whether the individuals are registered to vote.
(a) Protecting the right to cast a ballot and make that ballot effective.
(b) Ensuring that qualified individuals who seek to be admitted as electors are not impaired in being admitted as electors.
(c) Ensuring that each elector is not impaired in voting, including, but not limited to, having the elector's vote counted.
(d) Making the fundamental right to vote more accessible to qualified individuals.
(e) Ensuring equitable access for protected class members to opportunities to be admitted as electors and to vote.
Sec. 7. (1) A local government or state agency shall not impose any qualification for eligibility to be an elector, impose any other prerequisite to voting, impose any ordinance, regulation, or other law regarding the administration of elections, or impose any standard, practice, procedure, or policy in a manner that results in, will result in, or is intended to result in, either of the following:
(a) A disparity in voter participation, access to voting opportunities, or the opportunity or ability to participate in the political process between members of a protected class and other members of the electorate.
(b) Based on the totality of the circumstances, an impairment of the opportunity or ability of a protected class member to participate in the political process and elect candidates of the elector's choice or otherwise influence the outcome of elections.
(2) There is a rebuttable presumption that an impairment exists under subsection (1)(b) in circumstances that include, but are not limited to, any of the following:
(a) A local government closes, moves, or consolidates 1 or more precincts, polling places, or absent voter ballot drop boxes in a manner that impairs the right to vote of members of a protected class or results in a disparity in geographic access between members of a protected class and other members of the electorate.
(b) A local government changes the time or date of an election in a manner that impairs the right to vote of members of a protected class, including, but not limited to, making the change without proper notice as required by law.
(c) A local government fails to provide voting or election materials in languages other than English as required by federal or state l