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Early voting keeps Northern Michigan clerks busy

ROSCOMMON COUNTY — Early voting is underway in Northern Michigan, but the new early voting rules have many clerks working overtime to keep up with the changes.

In 2023, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed legislation establishing early voting in Michigan and moving up the presidential primary in the state.

Last year, state lawmakers voted to push the date of the primary to the fourth Tuesday in February, rather than the second Tuesday in March and in November, Michigan voters also weighed in at the polls, saying they wanted more days to vote in person. All those changes have added more work and expenses for clerks we spoke to.


“My deputy and I are on our 10th day of working with no days off and working at least nine hours a day,” said Milburn.

Milburn said it’s definitely added more costs to hold this year’s presidential primary for nine extra days.

“The main expense is the staffing, because we’re required to have just like on Election Day, a polling location. So, we’re required to have at least a minimum of three poll workers of different parties. And there is also another separate tabulator for early voting,” said Milburn.

In addition to the staffing and additional equipment needed to run early voting, Milburn said it’s a lot more days to cover. She said her township is going it alone, but other nearby townships are joining forces to offset the additional expenses.


“Markey and Lyon Township, who have joined together on the other side of the lake. It’s affording them the ability to, you know, each provide staffing on different days or each to cover the election administration part of it and they get to share it between that there’s another township over in St Helen. They’re doing four townships together,” said Milburn.

Milburn said Roscommon Township may be looking at something similar for future elections.

She said things are running smoothly but she also was fortunate enough to be part of the early voting pilot program last November.

Milburn said the new changes, the added work, and with less time to prepare has been stressful for other clerks she knows.


“I’ve heard a lot of clerks were retiring where they weren’t going to retire for a few more years,” said Milburn.

But for some voters who came in to take advantage of early voting, like Linda Lear, they like the new changes.

“I think that gives more people an advantage to vote, people who have to work certain hours. I think we’ll get a lot more people out to vote. And I think that’s great,” said Lear.

Milburn said so far Wednesday, they have had nine people take advantage of early voting, and 44 voters over the last five days.

She said that’s more than they had during the November elections during their pilot program. Milburn said she hopes as the word gets out about early voting, more will take advantage of it.

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