Michigan Secretary of State explains absentee ballot voting, what it means for citizens

Jocelyn Benson discusses voting with Detroit City Council

The Michigan Secretary of State is pushing to change the absentee voting process.

DETROIT – Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson spoke with Detroit City Council about an expected surge in voter participation in 2020, and how many voters will likely vote by mail.

In 2018, Michigan voters amended the constitution to give all citizens the right to register to vote through election day and to vote by mail without providing a reason. Benson explained that many voters took advantage of these new rights in elections in 2019, and she expects many more will do so in 2020.

The increase in voting by mail presents a challenge for clerks, who are currently barred by state law from processing or counting absentee ballots prior to election day. Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey told the Council she would like to be able to begin processing absentee ballots the Friday before an election, and Council passed a resolution calling on the state legislature to change the law accordingly.

Benson said she supports the clerks and jurisdictions across the state that would like to see the law changed.

“We’re working hand in hand with all of our clerks around the state to make sure they’re prepared for what we already know is going to be a significant increase of people registering to vote up to, on Election Day and voting from home," she said.