Legislature should do their job, pass laws to make elections smoother
The recent spat between Sen. Ruth Johnson and Sec. of State Jocelyn Benson regarding Benson’s mailing of absentee ballot applications to Michigan voters is not productive as we approach a significant presidential election in November and during a global pandemic.
Instead of further spreading the misinformed claims made by President Trump, Sen. Johnson should be focusing on ways the Michigan Legislature can make it easier for registered voters to exercise their constitutional right to vote.
That is what Michigan voters approved when they overwhelmingly passed Proposal 3 in 2018, which allows every registered voter to vote an absentee ballot if they choose. The Legislature should make sure our state election laws reflect the will of the voters.
Both the League of Women Voters of Michigan and American Civil Liberties Union recently filed lawsuits to ensure what voters approved in 2018 is implemented.
As your county clerk, I do not have time to get caught up in misinformation being spread by the President and his Republican allies. Election administrators like me have worked hard to adapt to make sure Proposal 3 is enforced. Here are ways the Legislature can support that:
Make Creation of Permanent Absent Voter Ballot Application Lists Mandatory
Proposal 3 allows voters to receive a ballot application no less than 45 days before an election without having to request one. Legislation requiring this would ensure voters have sufficient time to choose if they want to vote in person or absentee and make it consistent between communities.
Limited Pre-Processing of Absentee Ballots
Reporting results of absentee ballots takes much longer than in-person votes because clerks are not allowed to pre-process ballots until polls open on Election Day. Bills currently in the Michigan Legislature would allow clerks to process absentee ballots early while keeping them safely stored.
Change Election-Related Deadlines
If the filing dates for candidates and ballot proposals are moved back several weeks, county clerks could more easily meet election deadlines and get ballots to local clerks more quickly so they can meet the ballot availability requirements for overseas and absentee voters.
Require Ballot Applications be Fulfilled Immediately
Some local clerks that hold onto ballot requests for days before mailing ballots out to residents. Local clerks should be required to send ballots to all voters who request them within one business day when inside the 40-day.
Allow Ballots to be Postmarked by Election Day
Voters should not be penalized because of delays in the process of mailing their ballots. Counting ballots postmarked by Election Day ensures every vote is counted and not left out because of delays that are out of voters’ control.
Require Local Clerks to have Drop Boxes for Completed Applications and Ballots
Many voters who want to drop their ballots off in person are working during business hours. The state should require all local clerks to make this option available to their residents.
I urge the Legislature to pass this important Legislation right away so we can improve our electoral system as voters demanded in 2018.