OCTOBER 12, 2012
Legal move only option to protect military/overseas
LANSING, Mich. – Secretary of State Ruth Johnson and Attorney General
Bill Schuette today announced they are filing suit against 24 communities to
require local clerks to extend the counting deadline for ballots that were not
sent by the deadline set by Michigan election law so the voices of military and
overseas voters are heard.
"The men and women who put their lives on the line to defend our freedoms must
be able to participate in our democracy," Johnson said. "While the vast majority
of local clerks met the deadline, we must ensure that all military and overseas
voters' voices are heard in the Nov. 6 election."
Johnson and Schuette are pursuing legal action to ask judges to order local
clerks to extend the counting deadline for military and overseas voters who
applied for a ballot by the Sept. 22 deadline by the number of days the ballots
were delayed. Legislation supported by Johnson that would allow the secretary of
state to extend the counting deadline without the need for court intervention is
before the state Senate after House approval.
"Americans have the right to make their voice heard on Election Day and military
personnel who put their lives on the line for our freedoms should be no
exception," Schuette said.
Despite repeated reminders from the Michigan Department of State Bureau of
Elections and other groups, clerks in 24 local communities reported that they
did not send out 38 military and overseas ballots 45 days before the Nov. 6
election, as required.
More than 8,700 ballots were requested before the deadline. That means that more
than 98 percent of clerks sent the ballots in time and the number of late
ballots is significantly less than during the August primary election when 155
ballots were sent to military and overseas voters past the deadline.
Bureau of Elections staff sent multiple reminders to all 1,517 local clerks
about their responsibility to send out the ballots by the deadline. Bureau of
Elections staff also worked with the Michigan Townships Association and the
Michigan Municipal League to inform local clerks about the deadline.
Military and overseas voters still can apply for an absentee ballot. Specific
directions can be found at the Michigan Voter Information Center at
www.Michigan.gov/vote under "Military and Overseas Voting." Clerks may send
ballots via email to military and overseas voters if the voter prefers. All
voters can visit the Voter Information Center site to view the candidates and
questions that will be on their ballot.
As a former clerk, Johnson founded OPERATION: Our Troops Count when she was
Oakland County clerk to push for laws that would allow military ballots to be
emailed. Already, Michigan has made a number of improvements to how military and
overseas voters cast ballots, including:
- Expansion of a federal write-in absentee ballot to include state and local
candidates and ballot questions for overseas military and their families. Voters
who use the ballot return it by mail to the appropriate clerk.
- An electronic ballot system that allows clerks to easily email ballots to
overseas and military voters. This move can save as much as two weeks in arrival
and response times.
- An online ballot tracker – at
www.Michigan.gov/vote – that allows voters to
check on their absentee ballot status.
For media questions, please call Gisgie Dávila Gendreau with the Michigan
Department of State at 517-373-2520 or Joy Yearout with the Attorney General's
Office at 517-373-8060.
Related Documents & Topics
List of 24 Communities