Senate panel approves Johnson’s election materials security bill

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LANSING, Michigan— The Senate Elections Committee on Wednesday approved Sen. Ruth Johnson’s legislation to ensure that Michigan’s electronic voting systems do not use equipment or parts made by foreign companies deemed a national security risk by the US government.

“As we work to preserve the integrity of our elections, we must ensure that our voting machines are secure and protected from foreign influence and cybercriminals,” said Johnson, R-Holly. “As a former Michigan Secretary of State and County Clerk, I know we need to be proactive against potential security risks.

“Both the Trump and Biden administrations have recognized the growing threat of foreign-made technology in official communications services – and this measure would impose similar restrictions on our electronic voting systems.

In 2019, the Trump administration banned U.S. companies from using Chinese tech firm Huawei’s technology or supplying technology to the company, deeming it a national security risk.

President Biden signed the Secure Equipment Act in 2021, requiring the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to establish rules stating that it will no longer approve any authorization for equipment on the list of covered communications equipment or services. – that is, equipment from Huawei, ZTE and three other Chinese companies cannot be used in US telecommunications networks.

Senate Bill 884 would apply the same standards in federal secure equipment law to all new electronic voting machines purchased or approved by Michigan election officials.

The bill prohibits any electronic voting system purchased in Michigan on or after July 1, 2022 from including parts or equipment produced or supplied by a company with communications equipment or services determined to represent a security issue. nationally by the FCC. The Board of State Solicitors would also be prohibited from approving the use of such systems.

SB 884 would not prohibit the repair, maintenance, or acquisition of parts for the proper operation of existing systems acquired and approved prior to July 1, 2022.

The committee also approved SB 788 to fix a campaign finance loophole that Governor Gretchen Whitmer took advantage of last year to raise funds beyond Michigan’s contribution limits. It would require an office holder facing an approved recall petition to place money raised for a recall election in a specified separate account and return any unspent funds to donors.

SBs 788 and 884 are now heading to the entire Senate for review.

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