10/19/2020 News Update - Postmark Ballots: Recent Court Decision, Good Record Keeping and Post-Election Audits, Election Security Tips and more

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October 19, 2020

Postmark Ballots: Recent Court Decision and Update to Election Materials

On Friday, October 16, the Michigan Court of Appeals reversed a decision from the State Court of Claims in Michigan Alliance for Retired Americans v. Benson. As previously shared in the September 18 News Update, The State Court of Claims had granted an injunction ruling that absent voter ballots postmarked by November 2 must be counted if they arrive within 14 days after Election Day. The State Court of Claims had also ruled that between October 30 and Election Day, voters can designate anyone of their choosing to return an absent voter ballot envelope for them; it does not need to be one of the specific individuals designated under Section 932(f) of the Election Law.

Under the Court of Appeals decision, both of those orders are reversed and the previous Michigan Election Law rules are in place. Ballots must be received by 8 pm on Election Day, and the list of individuals who can assist in returning a ballot are those designated under Section 932(f) of the Election Law. The Bureau of Elections has updated materials to reflect the Court of Appeals decision. It is still possible there will be more court proceedings in the case. Please monitor the News Update for any further updates.

Election Security Practices

As Election Day approaches, please remember these key election security practices to help safeguard elections in Michigan.

Email Security

Malicious actors are constantly working to attempt phishing attacks and other cyber attacks via email. Please remember the steps below to avoid any breaches in email security:

  • Only open emails which you are expecting. If you question the legitimacy of an email, we recommend you contact the sender via a known alternative method (phone number on record) to verify the email.
  • Use strong, unique passwords for all accounts. If you have not changed your password in a while, please do so now.
  • Enable multi-factor authentication to secure your accounts.
  • Report any suspicious cyber-related activity.  The  Michigan State Police, Michigan Cyber Command Center can be reached at mc3@michigan.gov. If you have any questions or concerns, please email Ashiya Brown at Browna30@Michigan.gov.

Election Security Information Sharing

If you have not already done so, please join the Election Infrastructure Information Sharing and Analysis Center (EI-ISAC), by going to the following site: https://learn.cisecurity.org/ei-isac-registration.

EI-ISAC is coordinated by the Center for Internet Security and used to share key election security information among local, state, and federal election officials and security officials. EI-ISAC will give you timely updates on security incidents, news alerts, and other critical information.

Physical Security

Remember that all election equipment, including ballots, ePollbooks, USB drives, and other materials should be stored in secure, locked locations. Access should be limited to those who need to know where this equipment is stored and who need to access information. Jurisdictions should use lockable containers, cabinets, and vaults when available.  Election equipment or physical infrastructure should be stored in official locations with sufficient physical access control measures to offer adequate protection and prevent unauthorized access by members of the public, visitors, or other persons without a need-to-access.

Protect QVF Access

Remember to never share QVF credentials and to keep user IDs and passwords in secure, private locations. Multi-factor Authentication (MFA) adds another layer of defense to the system. Even if one credential is compromised, an attacker cannot log in without the other authentication requirement. We are currently hosting MFA drop-in sessions Mon, Wed, and Fri at 1:00pm if you need assistance with set up. For a drop-in session invite please email Browna30@Michigan.gov.




Report Misinformation  

The Bureau of Elections has a designated mailbox to report any misinformation. Misinformation includes any information that is created to mislead, harm, or manipulate citizens for the upcoming elections.  Please report any instances to misinformation@michigan.gov.

Emergency Response

Clerks should make sure to utilize all resources at their disposal to prepare for Election Day emergencies. The Election Day Emergency Response Guide Poster, which was sent to all jurisdictions who requested it over the summer, can also be downloaded from the eLearning Center.  It is useful to have the poster printed on site for reference in case of emergencies.


emergency response guide


Jurisdictions should also ensure their emergency response plans are up to date. An emergency response plan template is available on the eLearning Center. As part of the process of updating their emergency response plans, local jurisdictions should ensure they have points of contact with local law enforcement in the event of any disruptions at polling places that require law enforcement involvement. Guidance on voting procedures during COVID, see the safe election guidelines on the eLearning Center.


emergency response plan template

Again, both of these documents are available on the eLearning Center, or Email BrownA30@Michigan.gov for a copy.

In this issue:

  • Postmark Ballots:  Recent Court Decision and Update to Election Materials
  • Good Record Keeping and Post-Election Audits
  • Election Security Tips
  • Marking Spoiled and Rejected AV Ballots
  • QVF Software Release
  • Registration within 14 Days of Election Day
  • Democracy MVP Election Inspectors Still Available



Good Record Keeping and Post-Election Audits

Building on the successful pilot Risk-Limiting Audit (RLA) of the March Presidential Primary Election, the Bureau is beginning to prepare for a statewide RLA of the November 3, 2020 election. This will accompany procedural audits, which will proceed as usual. The RLA will not take place until after the election is certified and the Electoral College has met. 

Although the actual audit will take place in the future, we can all start preparing and planning now. The good news is clerks don’t need to take any additional steps at this time; good election record keeping is all that’s required. The more organized we are now, the easier the audit will be when it comes time to retrieve ballots.

The first step in preparing for an RLA is to ensure you are following the steps already put in place to ensure chain of custody procedures are being followed. You should reinforce with your precinct inspectors the importance of properly sealing ballot containers and accurately recording seal numbers in the pollbook and on the ballot container certificate. Additionally, it is important in your absent voter ballot counting boards to record on the certificate or in a separate log which precinct’s ballots are in each container. You should also consider recording the number of voted ballots in each container (both for in-person precincts and AVCBs)  on the container certificate or in a separate log.

These steps are not only beneficial for any type of audit, they are also important for any potential recount and maintaining integrity of our paper ballots.


Marking Spoiled and Rejected AV Ballots

The Bureau has received several inquiries about spoiling and rejecting ballots using QVF; specifically when in-person AV voters may spoil their ballots, and when clerks should mark ballots with missing or mismatched signatures as rejected in QVF.

The deadline for a voter who has already returned an AV ballot to spoil that ballot is now 10 a.m. on the Monday before Election Day. However, if a voter has requested an AV ballot in person at the clerk’s office on Monday and makes a mistake marking the ballot, it is still permissible to spoil that ballot and issue the voter another ballot in person any time up to 4 p.m. on Monday.

Additionally, QVF and MVIC have been updated so that when a voter’s AV ballot is rejected, the voter will see the ballot is rejected on the voter’s MVIC page. For this reason it is important to mark AV ballots that have missing or mismatched signature as rejected to increase the chance the voter will realize the voter needs to cure the signature. If a clerk does not immediately reach a voter when attempting to contact the voter about a missing or mismatched signature, the clerk should mark the ballot as rejected in QVF. If the voter is able to cure the signature, the clerk can reverse the rejection in QVF and instead mark it as received.


QVF Software Release

QVF Software Release for October 9 and 16, 2020 are as follows:

  • Street Index Request. Added a “House Number” Character field.
  • Print Queue. Provided additional sort options (allowing sorting by voter name, by precinct and name, and by ballot style and name).
  • AV Scan. New function added to allow the ability to process voters in AV Scan and add them to the Perm Accessible list while processing.
  • Precincts and Polling Locations. MVIC now displays directions to the polling location when entered in this section of the QVF under “Directions”.  The directions appear just under the map on MVIC.

If you have any questions, please contact the QVF Help Desk at 800-310-5697.


Registration within 14 Days of Election Day

Today is the final day to register through any method other than in person with the local clerk. Starting tomorrow, Michigan Voter Information Center pages at Michigan.gov/Vote will advise voters needing to register that they should do so in person at the local clerk’s office. Clerks should continue to look out for voter registration forms postmarked by the 15th day before election day, which are timely mail registrations for the November election. If voters register by mail postmarked within 14 days of an election, the voter must be sent notice that the voter must register in person with the clerk in order to vote on November 3.


Democracy MVP Election Inspectors Still Available


Election inspector recruits are still available for clerks needing additional Election Day support or needing to fill vacancies created by cancellations. We advise clerks to anticipate the possibility that some election inspectors will cancel or not arrive on Election Day and to have extra election inspectors hired and available.

If you need or want additional recruits to serve as election inspectors in November, please email Sally Marsh at MarshS3@Michigan.gov.  The Bureau of Elections YouTube page has resources that may be helpful in training your election inspectors.


Helpful Links

account requestcalendarElearning Center link