JULY 27, 2012
(Updated July 31, 2012)
Federal legal action expected
LANSING, Mich. — Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson today announced
that a U.S. Department of Justice lawsuit is imminent after local city and
township clerks in 70 communities missed state and federal deadlines for
providing absentee ballots to military and overseas voters for the August
Ballots must be provided to military and overseas voters who request them at
least 45 days before an election, either by traditional mail or by email.
Another 215 clerks did not respond to repeated requests from the Michigan
Department of State for a status on their efforts to provide the ballots.
"Our clerks do an excellent job on the front lines of elections and the vast
majority of them did comply with the deadline," Johnson said. "It is critical
that our overseas voters and military members — who put their lives on the line
every day to protect our freedom — get a right to participate in the very system
they are protecting."
If legal action is taken, clerks who missed the 45-day deadline could be
required to extend the time for receiving and counting the ballots only for
affected voters in their communities.
Michigan is unique in that more than 1,500 local clerks are responsible for
conducting elections, including absentee ballot duties. The Michigan Department
of State provides oversight, support and direction to clerks. The Bureau of
Elections sent at least three reminders to local clerks in advance of the 45-day
deadline to issue the absentee ballots to military and overseas voters. In
addition, the Bureau maintains an elections calendar to assist local clerks.
Michigan also has made other proactive efforts to increase access to the
ballot box for military and overseas voters, such as:
"My priority has always been to do everything I can to ensure that our military
and overseas voters have their voices heard on Election Day," said Johnson, who
founded OPERATION: Our Troops Count when she was Oakland County clerk to push
for laws that would allow military ballots to be emailed.
For now, Johnson has instructed clerks in affected communities to immediately
contact military and overseas voters and to offer a new ballot if one was not
Come August, Johnson will call on the Legislature to beef up administrative
remedies so that court action is not needed to ensure military and overseas
voters get their ballots in time.
"We must ensure everyone who wants the opportunity to vote can do so, whether
here or abroad," Johnson said. "They have a right to have their vote count,
their voice heard."
For more information about elections, visit www.michigan.gov/sos. Sign up for
the official Secretary of State Twitter feed at
Facebook updates at
For media questions, please call Gisgie Dávila Gendreau at 517-373-2520.
Jurisdictions - MOVE Non-Responder
Jurisdictions - MOVE Non-Compliance
USA v State of Michigan -
July 31, 2012
Editor's Note: The attached PDFs - MOVE Non-Responder and MOVE
Non-Compliance - were updated July 31, 2012 at 4:55 P.M.