FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
July 8, 2010
Carmella Sabaugh 586-469-7939
Paul Gieleghem 586-469-5713
Jocelyn Benson 313-410-4818
State adopts Macomb County’s online absent ballot antifraud system
As the Aug. 3 primary election approaches, Macomb County Clerk / Register of Deeds Carmella Sabaugh urges voters to use the state’s new online absent ballot verification system to track absent voter applications and ballots. The system, originated by the Macomb County Clerk in 2006, helps citizens in the military, senior citizens, college students, or anyone voting absentee to verify that their absentee ballot was received and counted. Aug. 3 will be the first Election Day that the online absent ballot anti-fraud system is used statewide.
“I am pleased Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land adopted our online absent ballot antifraud system,” said Sabaugh. “Secretary Land even improved upon my system by adding absent voter tracking data to polling location maps and sample ballots.”
The system functions much like tracking a package sent via Federal Express or UPS: visitors to http://www.michigan.gov/vote are prompted for name, birth date and zip code, and the system shows the dates that the local clerk received the voter’s absent voter application, mailed the ballot to the voter, and received back the marked ballot. Absentee voter applications are available on the county clerk or Secretary of State Web sites.
The system also exemplifies the county’s objectives of efficiency, innovation and transparency in government, according to Macomb County Board of Commissioners Chairman Paul Gieleghem.
“We have tried to promote innovation and accountability in Macomb County without increasing costs and the online absent ballot antifraud system is a good example,” said Macomb County Board of Commissioners Chairman Paul Gieleghem.
“This is one of many Macomb County innovations that need to be brought to the state level,” said Jocelyn Benson, Wayne State University Associate Professor of Election Law. “The Secretary of State should continue this trend and implement online voter registration like the system developed by Macomb County Clerk Carmella Sabaugh and used in other states. Like the online absent ballot system, online voter registration could be done with existing technology and equipment. It would reduce the risk of voter registration fraud, protect the security of our voter file, and would save money for taxpayers.”
Sabaugh’s Web site has links to a demonstration of how online voter registration could work at http://macombcountymi.gov/clerksoffice/VoterReg. Several states have online voter registration including Arizona, Indiana and Washington.
“The Michigan Uniform Electronic Transactions Act gives authority to the Secretary of State to implement online voter registration now,” said Benson. “The Secretary of State needs to show we take the risk of voter registration fraud seriously by immediately implementing Macomb County innovations like online voter registration.”
Macomb County has 597,293 registered voters for the August 3 primary election.
Using technology to improve election services is nothing new for Sabaugh. She was the first clerk to post online a “naughty list” of those that owe fines for campaign finance rule violations, and she created a system to let candidates pay fines online. She also posts county and local campaign finance statements online, placing Macomb County among the top in Michigan regarding public disclosure and accountability. Sabaugh was one of the first to use competitive bids for election supplies, saving hundreds of thousands of dollars.
As Macomb County Clerk / Register of Deeds, Carmella Sabaugh has also done the following: