Clerks unlikely to get legislative help counting absentee ballots

February 20, 2020, 7:15 AM

Get ready for late-arriving election results in Michigan. The Republican Senate Majority Leader said he prefers it to the horror of county clerks counting absentee ballots early. 

(Photo: Deposit Photos)

With no-reason absentee voting now allowed by law, requests for such ballots are already up as much as 70 percent in some counties, and that's only for the March primary. But clerks are not permitted to open and count absentee ballots until Election Day. The rule is expected to make for delays in getting final vote counts, particularly in heavy turnout elections. 

But state Sen. Mike Shirkey, who leads the majority caucus in Lansing, opposes legislation that would allow clerks to remove ballots from a "secrecy envelope" and prepare them for scanning on Election Day. He called it a "dangerous precedent."

Craig Mauger at The Detroit News reports:

Allowing local clerks to open the return envelopes containing absentee ballots before Election Day is "the nose of the camel underneath the tent" toward counting votes early, said Shirkey, a Republican from Clarklake.

"If I had to choose between early voting, early counting, versus late reporting, I'll take late reporting all day long," he said.

... (Detroit City Clerk Janice) Winfrey said she expects to have to count more than 80,000 absentee ballots for the November election. The total could even reach higher than 100,000 absentee ballots, she said.

The argument against early counting of ballots is that results can leak ahead of poll closing, which may suppress turnout if later-arriving voters believe their choices won't have an impact.

Maybe schedule your election celebration as a brunch the day after E-Day, rather than pizza the night of? 

Read more:  The Detroit News

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