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Whitmer Signs Bipartisan Election Bills Ahead of Mid-Terms

Line to Voting MachineWith mid-term elections right around the corner, on Friday October 7, Governor Whitmer signed a package of bills which includes a handful of changes to how clerks process ballots, including those coming from our military serving overseas.

These bipartisan bills include:

  • HB 4491 (Public Act 195) allows local clerks to pre-process absentee ballots two days prior to Election Day (Tuesday, November 8). Pre-processing ballots includes opening the outer/return envelopes to verify the ballot number is correct and remove the secrecy sleeve to store in a secure container. Prior to the 2020 election pre-processing and processing were done on Election Day; however, given the increase in absentee ballots expected because of the Pandemic, Michigan passed a one-time exception to allow large cities (with more than 25,000 residents) to pre-process ballots two days early. This bill removes the one-time sunset and extends to smaller municipalities the ability to pre-process ballots. The chief goal of this measure is to allow for quicker ballot counting to avoid any doubt or conspiracies of fraud that followed the delay in counting 2020 ballots.
    • Other aspects of HB 4491 include:
      • Changes to ballot drop boxes to increase the security and integrity of the drop box. The drop boxes must be clearly labeled, securely locked and bolted to the ground, monitored by video, and in well-lit areas. Some of these changes do not apply to previously installed drop boxes until January 1, 2023.
      • An Update process and timeline which requires clerks to update the Qualified Voter File (QVF) at an increasing frequency to remove dead voters from the rolls. Beginning October 1, the QVF must be updated weekly, with daily updates required in the 15-day period before Election Day.
  • SB 8 (PA 196) and SB 311 (PA 197) allows for members of the military that are currently overseas to return their ballots electronically. Before, military ballots were treated the same as all other ballots and were only counted if they were received on or before Election Day, no matter the date they were postmarked. Unfortunately, many servicemembers’ absentee ballots would arrive late despite being postmarked days or even weeks before Election Day due to the delays caused by overseas mailing. Now, servicemembers can ensure their vote is counted by returning an electronic copy of their ballot.

If you have further questions about how these bills will affect your township’s or municipality’s election process, please contact a member of our election law team.

Categories: Alerts and Updates, Campaign Finance (MCFA), Legislative Updates, News

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