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Push to move Michigan primary elections gets bipartisan support

Proposal moves August primary election to June
Published: Feb. 17, 2021 at 5:01 PM EST
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Election Day could be moving in Michigan.

There is a bipartisan plan in the legislature that would move the May and August elections. May’s election would be moved to March and the August primary would be moved to June.

The proposal comes as local clerks are under the microscope after the 2020 election.

Moving the August primary to June would give them time to make sure everything is right for the General Election.

“I think it makes sense,” said Chris Swope, Lansing City Clerk. “Within about two weeks, we have to put out a ballot with those statewide candidates on it so it would give more time for that process.”

It’s a process that’s led to some mistakes.

Michigan sent 400 ballots to military and oversea voters that left off former Vice President Mike Pence in September.

Swope said if the primary is moved, mistakes like that shouldn’t happen.

“It would give more time for that vetting process as well as to prepare the ballots and get them out,” said Swope.

State Senator Tom Barrett said he supports moving the primary because it also helps candidates.

“To handle any of the recounts that may be necessary, or challenges that may be present in any of the primaries before the ballots of the November election have to be printed and sent,” said Sen. Tom Barrett, (R) Potterville.

Clerks have to send out absentee ballots 40 days before the election as part of Michigan’s no excuse absentee law.

More than 3 million absentee ballots were processed before the last election.

Part of the proposal would also move the May elections to March.

But Swope said he actually would like to see that moved to June.

Keeping the March election only for presidential election years.

“The June ballot is early enough for property tax millages to hit the July tax bill. We think there’s no need for a third election day,” said Swope.

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson supports the change.

“I am grateful to Senators Nesbitt and Wojno for recognizing the importance of this common-sense reform and look forward to continuing to work with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to enact reforms that will increase the efficiency, accessibility and security of our elections,” Benson said in a statement to News 10 Wednesday. “Consolidating the May and August elections into one June election will save taxpayer dollars and meet a longtime request of clerks to be allowed to operate more efficiently.”

If the proposal is approved, Michigan will join 22 other states and Washington D.C. that currently hold primaries in June.

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