Michigan sued over late absentee ballots for primary

Jul 31, 2012

The federal government is suing the state of Michigan over the failure of some local governments to get absentee ballots delivered in a timely way to members of the armed forces, reports the Associated Press.

The U.S. Justice Department asked a Grand Rapids federal judge today to order some local governments to count absentee ballots received after the Aug. 7 primary election.

The lawsuit says dozens of clerks have said they sent absentee ballots to military voters after the June 23 deadline, 45 days preceding the primary election.  Dozens more still haven't responded to a survey by the Michigan Secretary of State. The federal government says it's unclear just how widespread the problem might be.

In a statement last week, Secretary of State Ruth Johnson said a lawsuit was likely, and that voters overseas need a chance to vote.

"Our clerks do an excellent job on the front lines of elections and the vast majority of them did comply with the deadline... 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."

To prevent problems like this, the state of Michigan recently made it possible for absentee voters to cast their ballots electronically in order to save on mailing time. The Michigan.gov website also has a new feature in which voters can check to see if they are registered, preview upcoming ballots and research the candidates.

-Elaine Ezekiel, Michigan Radio Newsroom