By Bria Brown

(CBS DETROIT) – Gov. Gretchen Whitmer held a press conference Tuesday to provide an update to voting in November’s general election and sign a bill to help ensure every vote is counted in the upcoming election. The bill allows clerks in certain cities or townships to begin processing absentee ballots prior to election day. It would also provide that clerks will notify voters of any reason their vote won’t be counted within 48 hours.

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and Delta Township Clerk Mary Clark also joined Whitmer during the press conference to discuss voting opportunities.

Benson said Michiganders can be confident that their votes “will count and the results of our elections will be an accurate reflection of the will of the people.”

“While it falls short of providing the relief clerks have asked for, Senate Bill 757 is a small step in the right direction to allow some clerks additional hours to open envelopes and prepare ballots to be tabulated on Election Day,” said Benson. 

Clark thanked the governor and Benson for their “leadership during this year’s unprecedented election.”

“This critical legislation will give Michigan Clerks the support we need during undoubtedly the most important election of our careers. Myself and Clerks across the state are committed to ensuring the integrity and accuracy of this election.” 

The bill Whitmer signed Tuesday would amend the Michigan Election Law to allow clerks in cities or townships with a population of at least 25,000 to perform certain absent voter ballot pre-processing activities prior to Election Day, as long as they give notice of that action to the Secretary of State at least 20 days before Election Day.

The provision would only be applied for the Nov. 3, 2020 general election.

Here’s more information on the bill:

  • The Department of State would have to post any written notices on its website, and the clerk would have to post the notice on the city or township website.
  • The bill would also allow election inspectors on absent voter counting boards in cities or townships to work in shifts.
  • It would provide requirements for absent voter ballot drop boxes and notification requirements for absent voter ballot applications and ballots that were rejected for missing a signature or having one that did not match the signature on file.

Whitmer was supposed to sign another bill at the press conference which would allow service members and their spouses to return their ballots to their local clerks electronically if they are unable to do so in person. However, Whitmer said the Republican Legislature failed to send the bill to her desk. 

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