Voting Begins in Michigan, Clerks Allowed More Processing Time

Voting is open in the state of Michigan.

Sort of. If you want to vote in-person at your clerk’s office.

Absentee ballots must be made available to voters on Thursday, which means voters can vote now, if desired.

Those absentee ballots are expected to get counted sooner, as the legislature voted Wednesday night to give clerks more time to process them.Ballot Changes Pkg 9 29 2200 01 23 22still001

Since she took office, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson has been asking for more time for clerks to pre-process absentee ballots. Benson wanted a week, that’s what states like Florida do. In 2020, the legislature gave her an extra day, this year they are giving her two days. 

It does not mean any ballots are going to be counted before Election Day

“It’s not tabulating anything,” said Heather Bouck, Mt. Pleasant city clerk, “Nothing will be tabulated until the polls open on Election Day.”

Voting absentee is extremely easy for the voter but it is labor intensive for clerks. This is a main reason why results were so late in major cities in November 2020.

But now clerks will have two days to start the process, open envelopes, match the voter to the ballot and set aside.

“We can remove the ballot, still inside the secrecy sleeve, from that envelope and then that way when the polls open on Election Day, at 7 a.m., that piece of the processing is already taken place,” said Bouck.

It’s only for municipalities with more than 10,000 people. That includes Mt. Pleasant but they have until 20 days before the election to decide to do it.

“I’m not sure it’s something that will partake in it here locally,” said Bouck, “We will keep an eye on the numbers.”

This allows the state to be aware, and let voters know, that’s how it will be done. All pre-processed ballots will be locked up and set aside until Election Day.

“Locked up for the night and then when that ballot box or envelope box or the certified container is open the next day, they will verify the count again to make sure it matches what was there,” said Bouck.

Ballots are hitting the mail this week, but Thursday is also the day clerks must have ballots on hand so voting technically begins now in Michigan.

“The silver lining is you can get your ballot right then and there and vote,” said Benson, “That just has to be done by 8 p.m. on Election Day.”

Categories: Election 2022