Michigan House approves bill allowing communities to pool resources and count absentee ballots

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LANSING, Mich — (WLNS):

The Michigan House approved a plan to give people new options to streamline the processing of absentee ballots today.

“Our local clerks are working very hard to implement the many changes brought forth by Proposal 3, and I understand the new challenges they’re facing,” said State Rep. Julie Calley, who chairs the House Elections and Ethics Committee. “That’s why we’ve been working on several solutions to help ease the burden on our clerks while still maintaining the integrity of our elections.”

Absentee ballots can be processed in two ways – at each precinct or in an absent voter counting board. When they are processed in the precinct, election workers usually feed absentee ballots into the voting machines during slow periods or after polls close. AV counting boards focus solely on processing absentee ballots all day long.

While AV counting boards are allowed under current law, communities can only complete the process on their own.

Calley’s proposal, House Bill 5141, would allow local governments to team up with other nearby communities or the county to establish an AV counting board.

“Some of our smaller communities may not have the workforce or equipment they need to establish their own AV counting board,” Calley said. “This will allow them to pool resources with others so they can process absentee ballots in a more efficient manner.”

Calley noted that workers on AV counting boards must be properly trained and are required to sign an oath not to reveal vote tallies until after polls close. Additionally, counting boards must have election inspectors representing both parties, just as polling places do.

The measure now advances to the Michigan Senate for further consideration.

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