Michigan Secretary of State urges Legislature to change the law to avoid disenfranchising voters | Michigan Radio
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Michigan Secretary of State urges Legislature to change the law to avoid disenfranchising voters

Aug 16, 2020

Jocelyn Benson is Michigan Secretary of State. (file photo)
Credit Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson is calling on the Legislature to change the law to allow mailed in ballots to be counted if they’re postmarked by Election Day. Right now, if a ballot is received after 8 p.m. Election Day, it’s not counted. In the recent primary election, Benson said many voters were disenfranchised because of the current law.

That's 6,400 voters who did everything right. They mailed their ballots in on time. It was postmarked prior to Election Day. And yet because of our law, they were not able to be counted,” Benson said.

With the COVID-19 pandemic and the troubled U.S. Postal Service, Benson feels the Legislature should change the law and allow ballots postmarked by Election Day to be counted if they arrive within two days after the election.

“One of the things we've asked the Legislature to do to prepare for November is to change that law. And this is particularly urgent given the challenges and uncertainties and unreliability of the Postal Service right now,” she said.

Benson said the law should be changed so that as long as a ballot is postmarked by Election Day, it should be given a short window to get to the local clerk to be counted.

“If a ballot is received after eight p.m. and in the two days that follow the election, they will still be counted,” Benson said, explaining the law change she's advocating for.

The Secretary of State said this is not a partisan issue, noting that both Republicans and Democrats are using the absentee ballot law that was added to the state Constitution by voters.

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