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Secretary of State Calls for Ballot Changes

Feb 14, 2020

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and a bipartisan group of clerks called on the legislature to pass reforms extending the deadline for when no new questions can be placed on ballots. Under the proposed joint resolution, the current deadline of 60 days would be extended to 75 days before an election.

Under the current framework, certain tasks cannot be completed prior to 60 days before an election and must be completed by the 40th day before the election:

    • Counties finalize ballot language and format
    • Counties send ballots to state for review and approval
    • Counties send ballots to local jurisdictions and candidates for review
    • Finalized ballots are sent to printers
    • Ballots are printed
    • Ballots are distributed to all 83 counties in Michigan
    • Counties deliver ballots to local jurisdictions (by 45th day under Michigan election law)
    • Local jurisdictions perform logic and accuracy testing with ballot tabulators to ensure ballots can be read in all tabulators
    • Local jurisdictions ensure all military and overseas voters who have requested a ballot at least 45 days before they election are sent a ballot on the 45th day before the election.
    • Local jurisdictions stuff and mail all absentee ballots to all voters who have requested an AV ballot prior to day 40

This issue has become relevant following the 2018 election reforms that were adopted by Michigan voters, which created a deadline for local clerks to mail absentee ballots to voters no less than 40 days prior to an election. Also included in the 2018 reforms is no reason absentee voting. That change has led to a sharp increase in absentee ballot applications. That, coupled with the 40-day deadline, local clerks are concerned with getting ballots mailed to all voters that requested one within the constitutional timeframe.

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