LANSING — A new bill allow clerks in certain cities or townships to begin processing absent voter (AV) ballots prior to election day.
Governor Whitmer signed Michigan Senate Bill 757 alongside Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson on Tuesday. The bill also requires clerks to now notify voters of any reason their vote won’t be counted within 48 hours.
SB 757 amends the state’s election law to allow clerks in cities or townships with a population of at least 25,000 to perform certain AV ballot pre-processing prior to Election Day. The clerks have to notify the Secretary of State (SOS) of these activities at least 20 days before Nov. 3.
This bill applies only for the Nov. 3 general election. The Department of State has to post any written notices on its website and the clerks are required to post the notice on the city or township website.
The bill also allows inspectors on AV counting boards in cities or townships to work in shifts. It has requirements for AV ballot drop boxes and notification requirements for AV ballot applications and ballots that were rejected for missing a signature or having one that did not match the signature on file.
The bill is part of a large-scale effort by the state recognizes the popularity of absentee voting and voting by mail or drop box instead of in-person on election day during the COVID-19 pandemic. President Trump’s premature allegations of potential vote fraud is at least one factor in pushing states to guarantee a complete and accurate count. In an unprecedented move, Trump has said he may not accept the results of the elections if he is not declared the winner.
“While the bills falls short of providing the relief clerks have asked for, Senate Bill 757 is a small step in the right direction to allow some clerks additional hours to open envelopes and prepare ballots to be tabulated on Election Day,” Benson said.
“Michigan voters: Request your ballot, fill it out and drop it in the mail by Oct. 19 or take it to your local clerk’s office,” Whitmer said. “Your voice will be heard in November.”
More than 2.7 million voters across Michigan have requested mail-in ballots for the Nov. 3 election, far exceeding the number for the 2016 general election. Voters approved a constitutional amendment in 2018 that lets people vote absentee for any reason.
A separate bill, SB 117, creates a path for active duty members of the armed forces and their spouses to return ballots to their local clerks electronically. The bill is sponsored by State Sen. Adam Hollier (D-Detroit). Republicans failed to send the bill to Whitmer’s desk by Tuesday, when she was expected to sign it at a special press conference held to discuss voting in Michigan ahead of the general elections.