The city of Montague is one of 24 townships/cities that are being sued by the Michigan Secretary of State for not sending out overseas ballots by the Sept. 22 deadline.
But, that one voter has already returned his absentee ballot from Japan.
Ruth Johnson, Michigan’s Secretary of State, along with Attorney General Bill Schuette, have filed a lawsuit against townships and cities throughout Michigan that did not send out absentee ballots by the deadline set by Michigan Election Law.
Ballots were supposed to be sent out by Saturday, Sept. 22, to those overseas or in the military who requested them before the 22nd. The city of Montague had one person request an absentee ballot, but it was not sent out until Wednesday, Sept. 26. The city of Montague is the only municipality in Muskegon County that is being sued.
The lawsuit requests that the local municipalities that sent out ballots late must extend the counting deadline by the number of days the ballots were delayed. In Montague’s case, their counting deadline would have to be extended by four days.
According to Montague City Clerk Laurie Robillard, even though the absentee ballot was sent out after the deadline, that person, who is not a member of the military, has already turned in his ballot. The city received the completed ballot on Oct. 22.
Robillard said she contacted the voter to tell him that he had four additional days in which to return the ballot because of the decrepancy. “He told me he had already mailed the completed ballot.”
The Montague Clerk said she sent out the ballot late because she was waiting for the official ballots to come in. The state then sent a survey to city and township clerks in Michigan asking them when they sent out the absentee ballots, and Robillard answered honestly, stating she sent out the ballot on Sept. 26.
In a statement released by the Department of State on Friday, Oct. 12, Johnson stated that, “The men and women who put their lives on the line to defend our freedoms must be able to participate in our democracy. 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.”
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.
According to the release, 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.
For the August Primary election, Johnson was sued by the federal government for the same reason. This time, Johnson is suing local clerks in state courts for sending out the absentee ballots late.
In total, 38 ballots were sent out late to overseas and military personnel throughout Michigan.