‘Extra work’ - Controversy over new Michigan election law
City clerks deciding whether or not to pre-process their citizen’s ballots
LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - House bill 4491 became law on October 7, allowing city clerks two days to pre-process absentee ballots. When it passed, Ingham County Clerk Barb Byrum was disappointed.
Byrum said, “most of the local Clerks in Ingham county will not even be taking advantage of this opportunity.”
She said the law is not “true” pre-processing, and not helpful compared to pre-processing in other states. According to Byrum, the new law only allows for envelopes to be opened and for ballot numbers to be verified. In other states, clerks start counting absentee ballots early.
“This is just a cover for the Republicans to say, ‘Well, we offered those clerks the option to pre-process, they didn’t take advantage of it. So it’s their fault.’ When in fact, the fault lies at the Republican legislature that has refused time and time again to listen to certified professional election officials,” said Byrum.
On the other hand, State Rep. Ann Bollin said the early counting of ballots is a separate conversation. She believes early ballot counting was not something that needed to be included in a pre-processing bill.
“I think a conversation is in order, statewide, on whether or not we should be an early voting state. I think it should be a discussion, one that is deliberated through the legislature,” said Bollin.
Bollin also believes that there are clerks participating in the new optional pre-processing and said that clerks helped create the bill.
Lansing City Clerk Chris Swope said Lansing will not participate in the pre-processing because the bill is too little, too late.
“It’s adding extra work.” said Swope about the new law, “What we really need is what 21 other states do. Where before election day, they are allowed to just go ahead and process and put them into a tabulator. They are just programmed so the results can’t be released.”
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