Chair Johnson Reams Reames/Patrick Colbeck's Fiery Testimony

LANSING- The Senate Committee on Elections overheard testimony yesterday about a bill that would establish a state training curriculum by the Secretary of State for election challengers and training every 3 years. 

Senate Bill 0292 (Sen. Rick Outman) Elections: challengers; training for election challengers; require, and require the secretary of state to establish election challenger training curriculum.

There was a substitute changing how long the election training is good for. The substitute includes an allowance to changing out challengers, which can occur any time prior to election basically canceling out SB 293.

Adam Reames, with the Michigan Department of State (aka works for the SOS Jocelyn Benson) testified against the bill and argues the pole challenger bill needs to be funded and resources are needed to modify and update curriculum so it’s an effective program. Reames argued that the training recertification time period should be closer to a year because of the constant changing of laws. 

Chair Ruth Johnson fired back at Reames, questioning the need for funding and asked him, “How much help in HAVA (Help America Vote Act) funds the department currently has, and I just want to confirm on the record what was conveyed to our office that that amount currently is $17 million dollars?” Reames paused for a moment and sheepishly said, “I don’t have the data in front of me, so I’d be reluctant to…I, I would like to go back and double check I got that right because I don’t have it in front of me.” as Chair Johnson contacted Reames’ office a couple of weeks ago for the data.

Chair Johnson, “We had you get the amount and I as understand it that conveyed there was $17 million of HAVA funds would that be accurate?” “We know there’s millions and millions of dollars so, I’m always a little bit concerned if when there’s some kind of comment like, “Well for curriculum we’re going to need money” when there is for sure well over $10 million sitting in the HAVA grant from the federal government right now here in Michigan.” Reames, “Yeah so the thing I want to be sure of though that money isn’t already obligated for security work project or a different kind of work project.” Chair Johnson, “You mean to use it maybe to mail out absentee ballots requests or something like that?” That was a solid burn.

Senator McBroom brought up a valid point about groups being upset about ties into parties, that numerous on the opposite side of spectrum that went as independent yet were activists in another party and people misrepresenting themselves. 

Alex Weddon of Pure Integrity for Michigan Elections (PIME), and constituents Bob Cushman and Ansin Layne also testified against the bill.

Patrick Colbeck of Let’s Fix Stuff also testified in opposition of Senate Bill 292. He stated in light of substitute some of the remarks are a new point. Colbeck also brought up the senate report stating there was no voter fraud in the 2020 election. “Both clerks and parties have to have universal training regardless of party. I was at TCF Center and was trained.” 

Colbeck had a binder with him during the 2020 election that included text from the Michigan Election Law MCL 168.33, credentials, and excerpts from the law. “We wanted to be as prepared as possible.” Colbeck also mentioned the 6-foot COVID rule in which challengers could physically not see ballot, that this protocol was designed to prevent pole challengers from doing their job, and that the basic premise will not reform the election. “The only way is thru a full forensic audit in Michigan” and “we need more transparency not less.” This is the “deletion” of nonpartisan oversight. “I vote no even with the sub. I’d be glad to testify under oath.”

The Senate bill was moved my Senator Vanderwall and passed out of committee with a unanimous vote of the three committee members that were present.

We got the chance to interview Former Senator Patrick Colbeck:



Watch Full Hearing Below:


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