St. Clair Shores city clerk to help advise on election reforms

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published March 1, 2019

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ST. CLAIR SHORES — St. Clair Shores City Clerk Mary Kotowski is one of 25 officials who was named to a new Election Modernization Advisory Committee created by Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson to implement Proposal 3 and other election reforms.

“It’s going to totally change the way we conduct elections,” Kotowski said of Proposal 3, which was passed by voters in November.

She acknowledged that the reforms will create more work for clerks across the state, but “it’s going to make, I believe, voting easier.”

Along with Kotowski, members of the committee include county, city and township clerks from across the state, Michigan-based voting rights advocates, plus local and national election experts.

“The results of last November’s election are clear: Michigan voters want to make it easier to vote and harder to cheat,” Benson said in a press release. “I am grateful to the local and national experts who have agreed to come together to ensure we do just that, modernizing our elections, applying best practices and making Michigan a national model for clean, efficient and secure elections.”

Among other reforms, Proposal 3 will institute absentee voting for any reason, automatic voter registration and the ability to register to vote up to, and on, Election Day.

The advisory committee is meant to provide input, suggestions and feedback on the execution of the reforms. Members will also consult on the launch of online voter registration, approved in 2018 by the state Legislature, and on solutions to current challenges facing elections.

Mayor Kip Walby said it is “impressive” that Kotowski was nominated.

“We’ve got great employees in this community. We know it, and it’s great when the secretary of state recognizes it,” he said Feb. 19.

Kotowski said that the reforms include automatic voter registration when a person changes their residence at the Secretary of State’s Office, and that the last day to register to vote will be 15 days before an election or in the two weeks leading up to, and including, Election Day at their municipal clerk’s office with proper photo identification.

“It’s better for voters because it’s when they start thinking about elections,” she said.

Along with Kotowski, other metro area experts named to the committee include Joe Rozell, Oakland County director of elections, and Janice Winfrey, Detroit city clerk.

“This committee is (the) best idea,” Kotowski said. “When you get a group of people with a lot of knowledge, you get a lot of good ideas and see how best to do it. I was really honored getting the letter from the secretary of state asking me to serve.”

Kotowski said that she thinks the changes will mean more absentee voting in the city and the potential need for more temporary workers around election time.

The advisory committee was set to meet for the first time March 4 and then again every two months until spring 2020.