Ingham County offers help with absentee ballot counting

Published: Oct. 15, 2020 at 5:36 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - In normal times, most people in Michigan cast their ballots on Election Day at the polls. But this year, the November elections will be much different. Instead, millions will vote absentee.

With a dramatic increase in those votes, it may take longer for elections officials to process them all.

On Thursday morning, Ingham County Clerk Barb Byrum received authorization from the Board of Commissioners to enter into contracts to operate a consolidate absent voter counting board for the coming election.

Basically, the county will help cities or townships that will ask for help in counting their ballots. But, Byrum told News 10 that it doesn’t necessarily mean that the results will come faster.

When it’s nineteen days away from a presidential election, a clerk’s office gets pretty busy-especially at the Lansing election unit that has gotten a record 18,000 ballots back.

However, Lansing City Clerk Chris Swope says they’ve got it under control.

“It’s been extremely busy. We’ve got a steady flow of traffic. We’ve done it before, we’re scaling up and we have lots of experience,” he said. "“I was involved in lobbying for that legislation and it was really designed for smaller jurisdictions so that two jurisdictions could work together or county could work with multiple smaller jurisdictions.”

For cities who don’t this year, state law allows county clerks to help.

“I availed myself and my resources to all the local clerks to perform their absentee counting. So, I would. I would count all their absentee ballots,” said Clerk Byrum.

Clerk Barb Byrum will have fifty trained election inspectors.

“They will be receiving the ballots from the local level. The day before the election, they will be processed on Election Day and tabulated on Election Day by Democrats and Republicans that have been appointed by the Ingham County Election Commission as precinct inspectors.”

The only area in Ingham County participating is Meridian Township.

“What this means for election night for the average viewer is nothing. They’re likely not going to see a change. I’m hopeful that unofficial results from the countywide county board will come a little bit sooner than they have historically from the Meridian Township absentee county board,” said Clerk Barb Byrum.

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